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NBR – Candlestick: Homegrown plays delve into past and future

By: National Business Review

The Candlestickmaker is the transliterated nickname fellow physicists in the US gave to Subramanyan Chandrasekhar (1910-1995) – most famous for imagining and calculating the probability of black holes.

It has more meaning when applied to the fictitious characters created by Jacob Rajan and Justin Lewis as a means of exploring, in Chandra’s reflected light – and in a word-play rich text – their themes of eternity v mortality, happiness v despair and the burden of genius v the joys of an ordinary life.

Chandra’s ageing nephew and self-styled genius Rohan, holds the light of his uncle’s true genius aloft so he may bask in its glow and find happiness in recognitin and advancement.

Ageless housekeeper Kalyani has been holding a torch for some far-flung mariner for 300 years and nurturing a duck for seven (to fend off a curse), whole perfecting her formula for happiness: redfish curry (hot!).

Nineteen year old New Zealand-born science graduate, Sunil Koshy – clutching his Lonely Planet traveller’s guide – is innocently abroad to connect with his inspirational uncle Rohan, unaware his truly great uncle Chandrasekhar is also due to arrive.

Magically realised by Jacob Rajan, using marvellous masks realised by Justin Lewis, in John Verryt’s superb rope-and-pulley operated set, atmospherically lit by Paul O’Brien – the intertwined stories of these characters exemplify Chandra’s descriptoipn of the creative lif of a scientist and artist, as a constant striving against “one’s inherent and often insurrmountable limitations.”

The puppet duck (made by Ann Forbes and Tim Denton) becomes another character in the sure hands of Kate Parker, who offers Rajan’s magician impeccable assistance and sings beautifully with musician Craig Lee.

By pursuing what they – the Indian Ink Theatre Company – call “the serious laugh”, this long-awaited follow-on from the hugely successful Krishnan’s Dairy graduates to a higher level of intellectual sophistication without losing accessibility.

Rich in strong flavours, subtle nuances, whimsical aromas and pungent surprises, The Candlestickmaker is a work of supreme creative excellence that proves the value of sustaining a dedicated company that is able to evolve new work over time.

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