Marvellously Freewheeling Evening Of Theatre

By Christopher Moore (CHCH Press)

A day ago, I would have said that I was the worst of all persons to attend – let alone enjoy – an evening of interactive theatre.

At such events, I could usually be found burrowing deep into the innermost recesses of the furthest seat from the stage earnestly entreating God not to let them choose me.

However, 24 hours is a long time in the critic’s life and before I was re-united with Mrs Krishnan.

It had been two decades since Mrs K and I first met in Krishnan’s Dairy and a lot of chai has passed beneath the bridge since Jacob Rajan’s play, followed by others, became enshrined as an essential part of New Zealand’s theatrical history.

Now Mrs Krishnan has returned as indomitable and endearing as ever in the hands of writers Rajan and Justin Lewis and the India Ink Theatre Company.

Played with deft sensitivity by Kalyani Nagarajan, she is the pivot around which Mrs Krishnan’s Party revolves.

Perhaps “revolves” is the wrong word to describe a marvellously freewheeling evening of theatre; a sequel to Krishnan’s Dairy but one completely different in form and style.

Rajan and Lewis might have provided the underlying words, but the spirit of the production is placed firmly in the hands of the audience.

Given the propensity of Christchurch audiences to be, let’s say, somewhat detached on occasions, I had some concerns about their response to join the party.

I needn’t have worried. Everyone joined in celebrating the Onam Festival, cajoled and charmed by Mrs Krishnan’s enthusiastic but accident-prone assistant James (a hardworking Justin Rogers).

Is this a play? A theatrical rave? An on-stage cooking show or an exercise in spontaneity and improvisation?

Mrs Krishnan’s Party defies any precise label. All that can be said is that it blends all these qualities together and emerges with something utterly beguiling.

There were moments – seconds – when the action flagged slightly (always a pitfall in any interactive theatre) but it soon picked up pace. Even the late Mr Krishnan had a hand in some of the tastiest dahl I’ve sampled in a long time.

Together with the balloons, garlands, lights, music and dancing this was a truly marvellous party.