The world premiere of Jatinga at King’s Cross Theatre came with a trigger warning — issues of suicide and women’s abuse are some of the themes. With most indie theatre, a lot of this is expected, but it is not to scare or alienate the audience. Rather, it’s to challenge and change perceptions.
The play is about five Indian girls on a dark and grim journey to Jatinga. The town is notable for the phenomenon of birds ‘committing suicide’. En route by train, they cross paths with a journalist heading to cover the anomaly, who then realises she’s discovered a bigger story than she originally thought. The girls are intending to commit suicide with the infamous birds, each opening up their dark pasts as the train takes them to their fate.
Presented by bAKEHOUSE theatre company, the play puts a spotlight on issues facing not just India, but developing countries. Human trafficking, abuse, and prostitution are some of the themes addressed. The production helps in raising awareness with Apne Aaap Women’s Collective, an anti-trafficking organisation that serves the women and children in Mumbai.
The King’s Cross Theatre’s stage was decked out with an Indian village-feel with clotheslines scattered on the ceiling. Exquisite lighting added to the emotional elements in the play. The intimate setting made the play alternatively dramatic and jarring. (Do note that the play contained a lot of Hindi and colloquialisms.)
The production lets you dive into the colourful culture of India, its enjoyment of song and dance. It’s not a ‘rags to riches’ story but a tale of struggle and strife. The cast, with a female majority, had a palpable passion that equalled the dynamic performance.
Jatinga has an incredible mode of storytelling that propelled the magnificent and intense plot. As director Suzanne Millar explained, ‘it’s a big sprawling, messy, beautiful thing…a lot like India itself’. It felt like a roller coaster experiencing the play’s world and left us at the edge of our seats, itching to know what happens next.
Jatinga will leave you stunned and emotional with its energetic cast, colourful sets, costumes, and confronting themes.
Kevin Rodrigueza is a 21-year-old Sydney local who enjoys craft beer, theatre and all things culture. Follow his adventures at @kevinr___.
Jatinga runs from 9-24 June 2017 at the King’s Cross Theatre, Sydney. Buy tickets now.