The Cultch: Indian Ink Theatre — Paradise: The Impermanence of Ice Cream

By Monika Forberger (EntertainmentVancouver.com)

Gerry the vulture puppet and actor Jacob Rajan in a pink shirt looking scaredWhat do Vanilla Ice Cream, Voltaren and Vultures have in common?

Discover their unique connection in Indian Ink’s (New Zealand) unique, spellbinding production of “Paradise or The Impermanence of Ice Cream,” at The Cultch Historic theatre until April 19.

Parsis in India have an unusual method for the of disposal of the dead. The corpse is exposed to the rays of the sun, and then consumed or devoured by birds of prey — vultures, kites and crows. For Zoroastrians, burying or cremating the dead is seen as polluting nature. For centuries, the Parsis in Mumbai have relied on vultures to do the work. But the plight of vultures in Mumbai has made them almost extinct.  Thus a story of how important and useful they are to this segment of India’s society give us much to think about. Written by Jacob Rajan and Justin Lewis “Paradise” demands your full attention because this is a powerhouse production featuring Jacob Rajan playing 9 distinct roles – from a salesman to a nightclub bouncer; from the new owner of an ice cream shop to a retired doctor, who is also one of the characters’ aunt. His performance is a tour de force.

In 80 short minutes the audience is brought into the intricate story of ancient religious rituals, to the portrayal of a vulture busy at his respected work.  It’s fast pace, hilarious, insightful and definitely thought provoking. Kudos to director/writer Justin Lewis for keeping the audience entranced and — perhaps just a bit frightened – by a style of living and dying of which we, in Canada, know so little. Especially noteworthy is Jon Coddington’s amazing puppetry, making the vulture one of the leading characters in this remarkable production.