INTRIGUING BLEND MAKES FOR VERY FINE THEATRE
Southern Lakes Festival of Colour|
The Guru of Chai
Jacob Rajan – Performer, writer
Justin Lewis – Director, writer
at Lake Wanaka Centre, Wanaka
12 Apr 2011
Reviewed by Caroline Harker, 13 Apr 2011
The Guru of Chai, performed by that guru of performance Jacob Rajan, is remarkable. It's impossible to imagine it being performed by anyone else. Rajan has shown audiences time and again that he can play all the characters in a piece of theatre with such charm and skill they are completely seduced.
In his first show – Krishnan's Dairy – we saw him playing multiple characters by cleverly changing masks. In Guru we see him unmasked and the result is even more powerful.
He opens with a hilarious monologue about how he has been invited to perform in Wanaka because the people there think their lives have no meaning, and then launches into an extraordinary story which holds the audience as spellbound as children listening to a favourite fairy tale.
Set in India it begins with a chaiwallah (tea seller) in a railway station who is interrupted by seven abandoned sisters who manage to bring the whole place to a standstill with a song. The story develops with an intriguing blend of bribes and brutality, love and lust, birth and death, lies and deceit, the epic and the intimate. Not forgetting shadow puppetry, lighting by torchlight, flirting with a pretty girl in the audience and a stuffed parrot with a soul.
The lines are both hilarious and profound ranging from “These poets, they have dirty filthy thoughts and out of their mouths come pomegranates and figs,” to “ Talking stops me thinking I am alone in the universe.”
Rajan writes his plays with long time collaborator and partner in Indian Ink Theatre Company Justin Lewis. Rajan always acts, Lewis always directs and together they produce very fine theatre. Don't miss it.
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