New Zealand theatre company Indian Ink has toured the globe with Krishnan’s Dairy, justly garnering rave reviews.
This one-man show starring Jacob Rajan centres on the travails of a migrant couple, Gobi and Zina Krishnan , who have moved from India to New Zealand to start a family and run a milk bar. Starting the family was easy. But juggling the demands of running a small business in a strange country, and the ordinary stresses of married life, beget endless comic frustrations.
Ther incessant connubial bickering provides some of the most entertaining humour – it’s a bit like the Kumars downsized – though there are more opportunities for slapstick, and Jacob Rajan is such a a maestro of physical comedy he can make opening a cash register seem funny.
Woven through this lighthearted material is the story of Shah Jahan, the Moghul emperor who built the Taj Mahal as a mausoleum for his favourite wife. It is a grand, resonant tale of grief and passion that the milk bar romance unexpectedly comes to echo.
Krishnan’s Dairy could easily have been just a clever comedy exploiting ethnic stereotypes. But it rises above all that to produce a disarming and genuinely affectionate homage to the culture it lampoons.
Jacob Rajan, clearly a comic genius, is assisted by the able direction of Justin Lewis, impeccable sound design and some Commedia Dell’arte-style masks which seem to allow him to transcend the usual constraints of the one-main show.
Not everything is perfect. There is the occasional clanger, and the performance begins and ends with the kind of mawkish Kiwi pub music that will have you reaching for the nearest ripe tomato. Notwithstanding, this is a tour de force from a master of multicultural mayhem.