The Perfume Garden was first performed thirteen years ago at the Gasworks Theatre. It made a return in 2007 at The Athanaeum and now, it has been revamped for 2017 and is being performed at the wonderful Chapel off Chapel.
Playright and producer Rajendra Moodley, has updated the script to reflect current society (think jokes about Tinder), and worked with Jagriti Bhatia of Ignite Bollywood to bring fresh choreography to the dance sequences. The dancers from Ignite Bollywood and also the Victorian State Ballet help turn this play into a live Bollywood extravaganza. The colourful costumes and infectious music are key features of this play.
The story revolves around Anand (Rajendra Moodley) who is in an arranged relationship with Devi (Sasha Joseph) that everyone except Anand is convinced will result in a wedding. Anand’s parents Satya (Vishpreet Pradhan) and Chitra (Laura Lattauda) treat Devi as a daughter, as her parents are in India, and make her feel a part of their family. It is only Ayah, the distant, elderly relative that lives with Anand’s family, who encourages Anand to think about what he wants for his life. Through a series of situations that alternate between reality and fantasy (and perhaps somewhere in between), Anand is able to see where his true dreams and passions lie, and what decisions he needs to make to make then eventuate.
The acting from the cast was varied. Both Pradhan and Joseph were the clear highlights, embracing their roles fully. Lattauda was perhaps a little miscast. Being from a western background, and playing an Indian with a thick, put on Indian accent was a little grating to the ear.
It is however always interesting to see Eastern stories and concepts put into a Western context for Western audiences, and this piece of fusion theatre was no exception.
Moni is of Indian heritage, was born in England and has grown up in Australia. As a result, she appreciates all things fusion.
The Perfume Garden is showing until 13 August 2017 at Chapel off Chapel. The venue is accessible.
See more of what’s on offer at Chapel off Chapel.
Disclosure: The Plus Ones were guests of MAD PR.
Image credit: Glen Wilson.