TAPAC Theatre, Western Springs, Auckland

12/02/2014 - 15/02/2014

Auckland Pride Festival 2014

Production Details

Mumbai. Population 20.5 million. A city that never sleeps. 

Directed by Ahi Karunaharan and Padma Akula, Mumbai Monologues is a snapshot of a city of dreams. Its secrets are revealed in stories from the eclectic queer characters who live in this vibrant, colourful and often chaotic landscape. 

This unique theatrical performance offers a peek into a culture and people whose stories we rarely see, or hear.

From stories of loss, to new found experiences, dating, falling in love, confessions to declarations, Mumbai Monologues brings together some extraordinary stories about ordinary lives in Mumbai and presents them alongside original songs. 

Interspersed with live music and movement, and featuring an ensemble cast of Auckland actors, dancers and musicians, Mumbai Monologues is a theatrical celebration of cultural and sexual diversity. 

Wednesday 12 – Saturday 15 February, 7pm 
Sunday 16 February, 4pm
TAPAC, 100 Motions Road, Western Springs
Adult $25, Concession/Group $20 or 09 845 0295
Parental guidance recommended – adult themes

Theatre ,

Glimpses of ‘real’ lives sensitively directed in evocative, beautiful show

Review by Vanessa Byrnes 13th Feb 2014

TAPAC theatre, a black box, can become anything. In this show it’s transformed into snatches of existence from a cast of many in Mumbai (Bombay). What a great way to spend an hour on a Wednesday night.   

Glimpses of real lives are presented in a lyrical, melodic framework in this highly evocative show. The fears and passions of everyday citizens of Mumbai are offered as short monologues, and through these delicious slices of life, we’re given a unique view of another location with its mores and norms.

Directors Ahi Karunaharan and Padma Akula sensitively bring forth issues such as bisexuality, homosexuality, straight dating and chasing your dreams, whatever they may be. Their direction is inspired and effective.  

Mumbai exists as a cityscape built on rhythm and feeling; dreams, perhaps. Chaotic and poetic, harsh and lyrical, its dichotomies are punctuated only by these random characters and a fantastic musical score.  

Sayanti (vocals), Kim Gruebner (violin) and Karen Plimmer (piano) infuse the performance with indo-celtic harmonies that lift the pieces with emotionally haunting compositions. Gruebner’s violin playing is wonderfully sensitive while Anti’s vocals are extraordinarily captivating. The music is divine and for its lifeblood, it could be even further connected to the whole drama. It’s an absolute windfall to have these expert performers in this show.  

A cast with wide-ranging experience perform the eight monologues with clarity and ease.

Raj Singh’s performance of ‘Bombay Nights’ is expertly nuanced and very funny, and a standout. ‘Section 377’ performed by Aman Bajaj strongly confronts Section 377 of the penal code that criminalises homosexual acts. Its final plea to “hold on tight” is sage advice to the lovers in the audience to hold their loved ones close. And Anita Crisinel’s ‘Memories’ is bittersweet with her emotional connection to the material.

I enjoyed the honest quality of all the pieces which tell important stories in this cultural community. Although the writing varies in its quality, there are some brilliant observations. 

The space is cabaret-style with three small stages to accommodate other shows in the Queer at TAPAC season. This doesn’t offer the best glimpse of every monologue, but it does immerse the audience in the drama. This show will continue to grow but it’s already a wee cracker. It’s described as “a theatrical celebration of cultural and sexual diversity”, and it confronts tricky issues with sophisticated ease.   

An evocative, sensitively directed, beautiful show that gives voice to issues not often heard in mainstream theatre. My companion and I were moved by the humour and lyrical beauty of the piece.


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