Arts Club Theatre

Bombay Black by Anosh Irani

Dates and Venues 21 February – 15 March 2008 @ 8pm | Granville Island Stage

Director Brian Quirt Sets and Costumes Camellia Koo Lighting Rebecca Picherack Composer and Sound Suba Sankaran Choreography Nova Bhattacharya Stage Manager Tanya Greve

Reviewer Ed Farolan

I think that if this play were made into a Bollywood movie, it would be more successful than a theatre production. The storyline is interesting: a blind man who falls in love with an exotic dancer. Or if it were made into a musical melodrama, again it would have taken off successfully.

However, the tragic approach to this story involving rape, incest, revenge, and other melodramatic themes made the play tedious. What made it even more tedious was inserting the Indian legend about Apsara and Lotus. Too much storytelling that should have been edited out remained, and the author should have left his materials as a short story, not a play.

I liked the dancing, and Anita Majumdar (Apsara) is an excellent dancer. However, her acting skills have to be honed more. Deena Azis (Padma) spoke too fast, and was often inaudible. Sanjay Talwar (Kamal) acted a bit wooden for his part, which required more passion.

The beginning was good. There was a suspenseful ambience as the music of Suba Sankaran filled the theatre, followed by Majumdar's dancing. Then, came the middle part that felt like padding. Too much talk, and that's why, if talk were converted to dance and song, this play as a musical would have been less tedious.

The ending was also a problem. When Padma mourns over the ashes of her dead husband, I said: "Ah, nice dramatic ending." Wrong! Maybe the next scene is the ending: the forgiveness scene where Apsara forgives her mother for exploiting her. Wrong again! This wasn't the ending. Finally, the real ending came.

The blind Kamal enters to carry his beloved from land to water, as it is only in water that Apsara and Kamal, the Lotus, can live happily ever after.This, indeed, was the true ending -- a mixture of Hollywood and Bollywood, where the lovers take off in their chariot, not towards the sunset, but towards the mythical Kingdom of Water.

© 2008 Ed Farolan