The Only Good Indian (Pandemic Theatre) 2017 SummerWorks Review

The Only Good Indian SummerWorks 2017

Are there sentences or phrases you can hardly bear to think about, let alone say? For me, one of those is ‘the only good Indian’. I was fairly surprised after I found myself blithely asking someone “Is this the right line for the only good Indian?” while at Factory Theatre. I guess it’s all in the context because The Only Good Indian is the name of a show that opened on Friday as part of 2017 SummerWorks Performance Festival.

It’s presented by Pandemic Theatre and is hard to describe because it doesn’t fit neatly into pre-defined theatre categories. It’s a solo show created and performed by Jivesh Parasram, Tom Arthur Davis, and Donna-Michelle St. Bernard. The three performers alternate shows.

From what I’ve read it appears that part of the show is the same each performance and part is personalized by the performer. Jivesh Parasram performed on Friday.

I find his stage presence remarkable, almost hypnotic. I’m not sure exactly why. Maybe it’s his voice which I find very soothing. Strange considering he starts the show by putting on a suicide vest that he said is loaded with explosives and set to go off in 30 minutes.

The program says that the performance is part lecture, part meditation and part threat. The suicide vest is no doubt the threat.

The lecture part is interesting, learning the origins of the words Hindu and India. He tells us about Hinduism and about his idea of God. He talks about colonization in a way that I haven’t thought about before.

I have to say that I’d be hard pressed to identify any part of the performance as meditation.

At least a third of the performance is about his mental health issues, suicidal tendencies, and severe depression. These are the parts that I related to the most given my own history of depression.

This sounds as if Parasram’s performance is dry and dark. Not at all. It’s all quite funny and very interesting. It isn’t in a straight line, he weaves back and forth between topics, linking them as he goes. And if it leaves me feeling as if I’m going to weep, that’s OK.

Sometimes shows stir up emotions and leave me feeling a little off balance. It’s part of what I love about theatre. Don’t worry though, it doesn’t mean that The Only Good Indian will leave you wanting to weep.

I plan to go and see the other two performers.


The Only Good Indian plays at Factory Theatre (145 Bathurst St).

Remaining performances:

  • Sunday August 6th 12:15pm – 1:30pm
  • Wednesday August 9th 5:00pm – 6:15pm
  • Thursday August 10th 5:15pm – 6:30pm
  • Friday August 11th 8:45pm – 10:00pm
  • Saturday August 12th 9:00pm – 10:15pm
  • Sunday August 13th 3:30pm – 4:45pm

SummerWorks tickets are now Pay What You Decide at $15, $25, or $35, whichever suits your budget. All tickets are general admission and there are no limits to any price level. Tickets are available at the performance venue (cash only), online and in person at the SummerWorks Central Box Office – located at Factory Theatre (125 Bathurst Street). Open August 1-13 from 10am-7pm. Cash and credit accepted.

Several money-saving passes are available if you plan to see at least 7 shows.

Audience Advisory: Discussions of self-harm, suicide, disturbing subject matter (14+). Latecomers permitted up until 10 minutes after the start of the event.

Photo provided by the company.