Twenty years after Indian Ink burst on to the New Zealand theatre scene with the play Krishnan's Dairy, the company returns with a joyful, highly theatrical celebration which is appropriately set in the back room of said corner dairy.
Like the well-stocked shelves of that local shop, Mrs Krishnan's Party is jam-packed with the essentials, along with a surprising collection of oddities that bring colour, humour and vibrancy to the enterprise.
The trio at the heart of Indian Ink productions — writer Jacob Rajan, director and co-writer Justin Lewis and dramaturge Murray Edmond — deliver a beautifully structured drama that has more plot twists, reversal and startling revelations than a Sanskrit epic.
With a strong emphasis on audience involvement the show establishes an easy-going, down-to-earth vibe which masks a dazzling range of theatrical skills. Playing the titular beleaguered dairy owner, Kalyani Nagarajan presents an engaging blend of humour and poignancy as she pulls off mercurial mood swings from domineering matriarch, to heartbroken widow, disappointed mother, coyly flirtatious suitor and hedonistic party-girl.
Justin Rodgers playing an aimless youth and wannabe DJ gets the party started with enthusiastic dance moves and relentless positivity.
Adding depth and substance to the play's everyday concerns is an intriguing digression into the ancient mythology underpinning the Hindu festival of Onam, a harvest celebration centring on a nine-course vegetarian meal to commemorate a demon-king banished to the underworld but allowed to make a once-a-year return to his former kingdom.
The party is rounded off with an impressive display of classical Indian dancing which shades into the joyous energy of Bollywood routine. The show's generous spirit offers a timely reminder that live theatre is a gift which engenders connection, sharing and celebration of community.
What: Mrs Krishnan's Party
Where & When: Q Theatre, Loft, to September 2
Reviewed by: Paul Simei-Barton