The play might be about death and vultures, but Indian Ink's latest production Paradise (Or the Impermanence of Ice Cream) is uplifting and inspirational.
Perhaps that's not surprising, given the reputation Indian Ink has for delivering great storytelling and outstanding theatricality. Add to that the fact this play featured the incredibly talented Jacob Rajan as the lead actor, once again taking on the role of several different characters in the play.
In fact, the only other person on stage is puppeteer Jon Coddington, who matches Rajan perfectly when it comes to the sheer physicality both of them bring to the stage.
Coddington isn't just the puppeteer, he also created the frighteningly realistic vulture puppet who is the centre of attention in much of this play, and I can't help but hope Indian Ink co-founders Rajan and Justin Lewis will be inspired to find ways to use this fantastic puppet in future plays.
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It is hard to describe the talent that is Rajan. There can be no question that in watching this show you are in the presence of theatrical genius as he switches his body and voice seamlessly between characters, from a tall, frighteningly polite money lender to a flirtatious and confident young woman, to an elderly aunt, a professor, a religious leader and, of course, the likeable but hopelessly bumbling and buck-toothed Kutisar, of The Guru of Chai fame.
Rajan leaps between these diverse characters as easily as another, lesser actor might simply move across the stage. Somehow he manages to grow taller, shrink in stature, age or grow younger, even making the audience see a plait or hair tossed over one shoulder where there is actually nothing but his hand twisting the imaginary locks, in ways that have to be seen to be truly believed.
The staging is simple - it doesn't need a complex or bulky set when you have Rajan on stage, deftly weaving empty air into whatever scene he wishes to set. The soundtrack however is anything but simple, it is packed with hundreds of individual sounds so realistic at times I would have sworn we had actually been transported to a nightclub in Mumbai or an eerily silent tower awaiting a vulture visitation.
The storyline keeps the audience on tenterhooks throughout and despite the complexity of the actual story, not to mention the fact all characters bar the vulture are played by the same person, it isn't confusing or leaves you scratching your head.
Instead the audience are left with an overwhelming sense of wonder and awe as the curtain goes down on what is, quite simply, the most magical play you will see this year.
If you have the chance to see this play, go. It will leave you with goosebumps, and quite possible a new found love of vultures.