By Jodi Bryant
An interactive theatre show starring a former Kerikeri High School student is about to kick-off a nation-wide tour in Whangarei.
Justin Rogers plays Mrs Krishnan's boarder James, a well-intentional but overzealous wannabe DJ who invites 'a few friends' into the back room of the dairy as a special surprise for his landlady to celebrate Onam - the annual Hindu Festival. When a bunch of strangers turn up and settle in, Mrs K, a widow, has no choice but to throw the party of her life as James unwittingly brings everyone in the room face-to-face with the festival's true meaning – a celebration of death and rebirth.
As a companion piece to the much-loved and critically-acclaimed Krishnan's Dairy, Mrs Krishnan's Party, run by Indian Ink Theatre Company, will blur the line between audience and performers, seating the audience around the dining table, standing them around the venue and perching them around the kitchen bench for the 75-minute comedic drama.
Justin was head boy at Kerikeri High School in 2012 and graduated from drama school in 2015, subsequently performing across New Zealand stage and screen. His family now lives in Whangarei.
"I'm really looking forward to taking the show to Whangarei and to be performing at OneOneSix on Bank St. It's becoming an awesome hub for Whangarei theatre and I'm excited to be a part of that. It'll also be great to share the show with my family, who've had to put up with my acting since I was little," he says.
Justin stars beside former drama school classmate Kalyani Nagarajan, an in-demand South Asian Kiwi actress, who plays Mrs K.
Together, they create theatrical mayhem in the rapidly-unfolding, odd-couple drama of a careworn, widowed shopkeeper and a naïve party-mad boarder where the audience becomes the third character in the party within a play.
The tour dates align with Onam, the annual Hindu Festival that celebrates the rice harvest symbolising death and rebirth from August 15-25. Onam is testament to the colourful and riotous parties Indian culture is known for and, while celebrations are going on in the outside world, Indian Ink is set to bring the same joyous festivities inside the theatre with Mrs Krishnan's Party.
"In the spirit of great parties everywhere, particularly colourful Indian parties: laughter abounds, tears are shed, stories are told, wine and secrets are spilled, food is cooked and shared, a mess is made, arguments flare, love is found, faith is restored, wonderful music plays, tables are danced on and 100 strangers leave as friends." – Indian Ink Theatre.