My Granny the Goldfish by Anosh Irani

Dates and Venue 16 April - 15 May 2010 | New Revue Stage, Granville Island, Vancouver

Reviewer Susan Peake

Those who choose to see Irani's latest offering at the new Revue Stage at Granville Islandare in for a double treat. Not only is My Granny the Goldfish side-splittingly funny, but also the newly renovated 200-seat Revue Stage provides the perfect theatre space for creating an intimate relationship between the audience and the performers.

The play begins with a young hypochondriac, Nico, played by Shaker Paleja, sitting in a hospital bed in Vancouver. He has just had a biopsy taken on an orange-sized lump that has appeared on his back. In comes his grandmother, a free-spirited, whiskey-drinking, larger than life character who has just flown over from India to take care of her grandson. The hilarious dialogue between the two is so fast-paced that you work hard at catching as many one-liners as possible. Plenty of cultural teasing, directed evenly between India and Canada, are particularly funny. For example, Granny informs Nico that the clothing
line, GAP, is coming to India. She remarks, "Just think, you can buy something your own children have made." And, Nico must explain why his Granny cannot drink whisky in the hospital, "Rules are like oxygen here."

Scene II takes us to the other side of the world, to Mumbai/Bombay by way of an upper stage that appears. Here, in their living room, we meet Nico's alcoholic mother, Veena Sood, and his long-suffering father, David Adams, who are anxious to hear from Granny with news of the condition of their son. More hilarious dialogue ensues and we continue to delight in the, often surprising racial remarks that are not offensive only because of the absurdity of the characters who say them.

Sood is exceptional as the flawed, irrational Chevas drinking mother. Her crisp voice cuts through the air with perfect comedic timing and her body language enhances her often ludicrous remarks. Adams handles the role of the resigned husband who must deflect his wife's personal insults as a course of life.

Balinder Johal is a charming Granny, although some of her lines are lost, perhaps, in the timing, the volume, or the accent. Regardless, she receives lots of laughs as she bounces her ludicrous remarks off her grandson, who is the quintessential straight man.

The second act continues with more fun, even though issues such as alchoholism, family disfunction and child neglect are part of the discussion. There are several twists and turns before the comedy comes to an end, and by the way, the end is not as easy to determine as you may first think.

Amir Ofek cleverly divides the two settings, both India and Canada. As well, his use of a model airplane to indicate the travel between the two countries is very entertaining.

All in all, Anosh Irani has given us a treat in My Granny the Goldfish; you can even find a life lesson in it - lighten up! A lesson worth learning.

© 2010 Susan Peake