Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Gandhi and Coconuts

Is it better to be sane or happy?

This is the question underlining Kali Theatre Company’s portrayal of Gandhi and Coconuts.
The story, written by Bettina Gracias, opened at Curve, Leicester last night with its touching yet humorous tale of a lonely housewife’s fantasy afternoon tea with Mahatma Gandhi and the Hindu Gods Shiva and Kali.

Asha (Sophiya Haque) and Ajay (Rez Kempton) move to London from India to earn money for their family back home. But Asha’s isolation in their flat and her fear of the new world outside soon sees her mundane routine transform into a fast-moving and at time, farcical, world of colour and light.

The story shows how life can often become a routine and the couple have very traditional values of the husband working and the wife staying at home.

With today’s equality in place I felt sorrow in the pit of my stomach for Asha who had so many expectations put upon her.

Asha is home sick and idealises about the simpler life back home but it’s clear that it is the change she’s struggling to adjust to. When her husband watches the news all she hears about is the stabbings and muggings happening in their neighbourhood and when Asha experiences racism through her living room walls from her neighbour this just adds to her agoraphobia.

When Asha descends into her own fantasy world and Gandhi and the two Gods arrive for tea it’s obvious she’s not going to get rid of the trio easily.

I was in fits of laughter as Gandhi (Gary Pillai), Shiva (Robert Mountford) and Kali (Nimmi Harasgama) drank whisky, danced and fought over what was best for Asha.

The clean white paper like set used as the couple’s home was a great aid to Chris Corner’s lighting which changed colours when Asha’s fantasy friends were in the room.
Asha is happier when in her own world with Gandhi and seems numb when she has to step back into the real world to tend to her husband’s every need.

When Ajay starts to see his wife’s personality change it puts it down to hormones at first but the reality of her state of mind soon sinks in.
Ajay doesn’t understand his wife’s odd-ball behaviour but they both share a sense of overwhelming pressure and boredom through their new life in London.

This show is a must for anyone who loves a bit of insanity and creativity.
To book your tickets visit

Runs until Saturday February 26 2011.

Originally written for The Public Reviews.

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