By Megan Mooney
I got to go to another CrossCurrents show last night. My Granny The Goldfish is the most recent offering of playwright Anosh Irani. This public reading was a delight to watch. I’d call this play a comedy with substance. But no matter what you call it, it was an evening of much laughter and great fun.
My show-partner for My Granny The Goldfish with Genny. I connected with her through the Mooney on Theatre facebook group, where the Mooney on Theatre writers post calls for show-partners. If you someday want to be a show-partner, then be sure to sign up for to the group, it’s a great opportunity for a free night out. Thus ends the plugging of said facebook group.
When I asked Genny what she though of the piece, she said she thought it was “Absolutely hilarious, and poignant” I have to agree. There were many belly laughs throughout. Lots of one-liners. One of my favourite examples is when the Grandmother is saying “everything is coming to Bombay” and sites the arrival of the Gap. She tells us she’s thought of a new ad campaign for the Gap in India “The Gap – come buy something your own children have made.” As I write that I realise that it could sound heavy handed and politicized, but in the context of the play the biggest thing that comes through is the humour. Politicizing it just makes it more interesting.
Genny pointed out something interesting. She said she’d love to hear this as a radio play – she felt that it would beautifully translate to one. Unfortunately the opportunities to produce radio plays seem to be even less than the opportunities to produce in-person plays. But it certainly is an interesting concept.
The unfortunate flip side of that is that Genny can’t imagine it as a stage play. At this point it might be helpful to remind folks that CrossCurrents is a festival of play readings, so in this case the actors sat in chairs in a line across the stage with scripts on music stands in front of them. She’s not sure there is enough ‘action’ in the play for a stage production.
Taking place in two locations, the show is largely split between the relationship between Nico and his Grandmother in Vancouver, and Nico’s parents in Mumbai. Both Genny and I felt a dissonance between the the two relationships.
The relationship between grandmother and grandson felt real and developed, whereas the relationship between husband and wife felt almost absurdist. The disconnect between the feeling of realism and the feeling of the absurd is jarring. I fully acknowledge that this difference may have been intentional, the depth of one relationship contrasted with the shallow surface nature of the other – but the truth is, that part just didn’t work for us.
Genny suggested that perhaps the whole play could take place without the parents at all. She said she felt the other two characters were so well developed, and told such and interesting story, that they could easily stand on their own. I’m not sure I’d be leaping to cut the parents out completely, they do provide some context and tension, but I do think they may need to be reworked. Which is the joy of this festival – the playwright has now seen the words of his work-in-progress played out in front of an audience. It makes all the difference.
This is getting long, so I’m going to switch to point form. Some other comments:
– When a character exited the actor lowered the music stand, often with a slight bang when the stand reached it’s lowest point. It began to symbolize the leaving for me, I liked having that cue to work with;
– The language and ideas in this show are wonderful, from suggesting that a child of an Indian and Chinese parent would be “Brownies” – or I suppose, Brownese, to the comment that Nico “I never left (Bombay) – I just ran away”; and
– I wish the show had ended earlier. Not because I felt it was too long, but because there was a powerful moment between Nico and his Grandmother that felt watered down by the continuance of the narrative. I could easily have done without what felt like an unnecessary depiction of a plane-ride. One the other hand, I loved the epilogue that followed the ending. It was beautiful and I would be sad to see that go.
The overall feeling was that this was a very strong piece, funny and accessible, sharp and poignant, but that it’s not ‘finished’ yet. Which is probably a good thing, because as I’ve blathered on to whoever will listen, to me, that’s part of the point of the festival.
Bottom line, when this gets produced go see it. I think it will be well worth your while.
Since CrossCurrents is just one reading per script, you won’t get the chance to see this particular version in this forum again.
And, since you don’t want to miss out on other great stuff, I recommend you get yourself out to CrossCurrents this week to check out some of the great stuff going on. The festival runs until May 10, 2009 and tickets are all PWYC. For more information on show times and shows playing check out the website.