A Wonderful, Wholly Engaging Work

By Madelaine Empson (Regional News Wellington)

Mrs Krishnan (Kalyani Nagarajan) is thinking of selling the beloved Krishnan’s Dairy. It’s a good time to sell, but it’s also Onam, which is a good time for a party. Her boarder James (Justin Rogers), aka ‘DJ Jimmy J’, has planned a huge surprise for ‘Mrs K’ – but she is in no mood to join in the festivities.

A sequel of sorts to the wildly successful Krishnan’s Dairy, Mrs Krishnan’s Party is quite different to Indian Ink’s past works – and indeed, to every other work I’ve seen to date. It’s an interactive, immersive experience in which audience members are positioned as guests. Some are even seated around the dinner table, while others help to cook dal, a traditional Indian dish that smells delicious. Unfortunately, James’ accidental addition of an unsavoury ingredient rather puts us off the meal…

Unlike other Indian Ink productions (I’m thinking of the Pickle King in particular), I wouldn’t say that Mrs Krishnan’s Party shredded my heartstrings; only that it gently plucked them occasionally. I have found Indian Ink’s plays to strike a delicate balance between comedy and tragedy, hitting that sweet spot that makes you laugh and cry simultaneously. Perhaps because I haven’t seen Krishnan’s Dairyand never met Gobi (which I aim to rectify as soon as possible), I didn’t feel the full emotional impact of Mrs Krishnan’s circumstances. I did however fall in love with her – she’s a strong and steadfast character, played with sass and sophistication by the brilliant, born-performer Nagarajan.

Rogers is a natural MC with an irresistible charm. Together they make a dream team, guiding us through unfamiliar territory with ease. They also handle the audience with sensitivity, pushing the limits of acceptable decorum (hilariously, I might add) but never crossing the line.

Ultimately, Mrs Krishan’s Party is a wonderful, wholly engaging work. If you want to escape your life for 75 minutes, whether you’ve seen Krishnan’s Dairy or not, you must see this play.