D'Arranged Marriage

Fortune Theatre, Dunedin

16/07/2010 - 17/07/2010

Production Details

D’Arranged Marriage is a play about Sanjay Gupta, an aspiring New Zealand Indian stand-up comic who spends his life working at his father’s corner shop and avoiding the issue of an arranged marriage. His nagging family finally gets the better of him, but to his surprise he discovers the prospective bride is the one! 

Sold out in New Zealand, Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, and hot off of a five month sold- out Season at the Soho Playhouse in Manhattan, and a killer sold-out season in Edison, New Jersey, This one-man tour-de-force comedy features eight hilarious characters, Bollywood-style dance routines and an irreverent look at love, sex, Indian culture and vegetables. 

“a charmer of a love story, richly mining the Indian background of the tale while revelling in

everything that makes it universal…" nytheatre.com

Tarun’s ability to create believable compelling characters by simply changing his voice, posture and facial expressions is remarkable to watch.” Waikato Times, February 2007 

D’Arranged Marriage is a testimony to Tarun’s slick skills as a stand up comic. He never faltered as he moved from character to distinct character in split seconds. There was neither costume change or intermission but the audience was too busy laughing to notice.” The Star Malaysia June 05  

Where: Fortune Theatre
When: July 16th and 17th
Price: Full $25.00 Concession $20 
Bookings: 03 477 8323 

Sound and Lights Zoe Timbrell
Projector Operator: Hiral Patel
Producers: Those Indian Guys

Real affection for characters’ quirks and oddities

Review by Sharon Matthews 17th Jul 2010

I feel I’ve seen this production before. Somewhere. But I can’t work out whether it was this actual production, or whether the familiarity of its characters and plot just remind me of something else I’ve seen.

I know I’ve seen these characters before; the grandmother balanced on her imaged Zimmer frame had an uncanny resemblance to Meera Syal’s grandmother in The Kumars at No 42, the clever comic dialogue, and the cultural clashes which create the comic situations our hero stumbles into, remind me of BBC English sketch comedy show Goodness Gracious Me. And any one man show set in the New Zealand Indian community, involving multiple characterisation, a dairy, and a love story, will inevitably invite comparison with Indian Ink Theatre company’s Krishnan’s Dairy.

However, familiar does not mean unenjoyable, or in any way inept. D’Arranged Marriage, directed by Rajeev Varma and starring Tarun Mohanbhai, is a polished but simply presented drama about a sweet twenty-nine year old Indo-Kiwi, Sanjay Gupta, who works in his parents dairy, dreams of becoming a stand-up comic, and attempts to avoid a threatened arranged marriage. 

Mohanbhai is a seductively charming comic performer, who keeps his enthralled audience laughing. His physical control over his multiple dramatic personae is astonishing; clearly defined and richly compelling. Totally believable characters are evoked by a simple change of voice and posture, and without any change of costume or set. 

I am particularly impressed by the simplicity of the location transference between the family situations and the depiction of Gupta’s actual stand-up comedy performances. The lighting design is an integral part of this: clear, simple lighting states defined and distinguished time and place. Although, I do wonder if the lighting operator was unfamiliar with the show last night, as certain scenes seemed to end a tad abruptly with Mohanbhai speaking into darkness.

A show like this could very easily slip into parody, particularly since this touring show has been on the road for a while, but Mohanbhai shows no signs of being bored with his material, and lovingly displays his family of characters with real affection for all their quirks and oddities. I feel, however, that Mohanbhai enjoys portraying his fictional family so much that the narrative, which is a slim one, is slow to take off. 

Those Indian Guys formed this production company to: “explore Indian culture and mores through comedy and theatre.” I’m intrigued by this experience of their work, and I would be very interested to see future productions by Mohanbhai and Varma. Especially if they choose to move beyond an overemphasis on stereotypes, charming and lovable though they may be. 
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