The Pickle King By British Theatre Guide, London

By British Theatre Guide (London)

Those who remember the last Edinburgh production by Indian Ink, Krishnan’s Dairy at the Traverse, will have had high hopes for Pickle. These are entirely justified, as this gentle comedy provides what will probably prove to be one of this year’s highlights.

Indian Ink come from New Zealand and they provide boundless imagination, a willingness to experiment with form and a touching fairy tale that together hold the interest.

The plot, set in a hotel, is deceptively simple – a burgeoning love between two shy but rather loveable people.

The play takes on a mythical quality as the Empire plays host to a series of silent guests rather like the Stoneheads that recently appeared at the National Theatre.

The cast all wear masks though these vary from full face through half, down to false noses on the hero and heroine.

Within the love story, there is room for global issues to impinge. An accident at a chemical factory in India has almost blinded the unhappy, widowed Sasha (Ansuya Nathan) and killed her parents. She now lives with her overbearing Aunt Ammachy (Jacob Rajan) who wishes to play the matchmaker. Unfortunately her choices do not please her niece.

She falls for the porter, Jojo (Jacob Rajan) an example of the cruelty of immigration, as he is fully trained as a heart specialist. In fact, the heart in all of its senses is a major motivator of this plot.

The acting from Jacob Rajan, the star of Krishnan’s Dairy and Ansuya Nathan is of high quality, as is the beautifully painted and versatile set designed by John Verryt. As if all of this were not enough, there is a delightful dance piece and a handful of songs crooned by Ben Wilcock.

Once you include a visitor called G. Reaper and a diabolical pact that he forces; and the whole makes for a very satisfying way to spend a lunchtime.