‘A brimful of Asha’ is the kind of show I was already excited to write about upon entering the space. The actors were there to greet audience members upon arrival, in itself a rare and welcome occurrence, and what was more, they greeted us with a large plate of steaming crispy samosas. The evening was already off to a good start! Ravi and Asha shook our hands, exchanged pleasantries, and welcomed us into their home….otherwise known as the Revue stage. The audience jovially took their seats and the actors took their places upon stage.
The premise for the play is as follows: Ravi Jain is Indian. He is not married. This is a problem. He and his mother have asked us here, this large group of their closest friends, to help them settle the dispute of whether or not he should be getting married, or rather, whether or not he should be getting married straight away by arrangement, without being in love, to please his parents.
Ravi and his real life mother Asha take us on this journey that is the focus of their relationship, along with Ravi’s father and, as per Indian tradition, their entire extended family. The plot focuses on the touchy topic that is at the centre of the Jain household for the past couple years: Ravi’s disappointingly single status. What makes that worse? The fact that he is an actor. As his mother sarcastically states ‘Theatre, what a proud profession for an Indian parent.’
Amidst this clash of cultures and conflict of interests, a hilarious and entertaining story emerges and ensues throughout, one with shockingly candid comments and heart wrenchingly frustrating conversations. The dynamic between mother and son is priceless, scripted and performed with just the right balance of controlled believability. Both actors are natural and relaxed onstage and Asha continuously floored the audience with some uproariously bold one-liners.
It is easy at times to write off Asha’s traditional stance on the situation, for we live in a country which promotes freedom and choice and amidst a contemporary society that values love and personal happiness. Ravi grew up in this environment and thus struggles with the concept of such a commitment for commitment’s sake, or for the sake of pleasing someone else.
However- I’m sure we can all relate to desperately wanting to please and promote pride within our parents, those beloved figures who have instilled their beliefs and personal upbringings into us from the start. How can they not after all? In this rapidly developing, expeditious modern world I can understand and relate to the desire to hold onto tradition. But should this come at the expense of one’s happiness?
Go and see it and decide for yourself! And leave room for the samosas…they are damn good
As a theatre blogger for GVPTA, my ticket was provided free of charge to this production. That being said, opinions and statements made are my own. This is not a review, but a post meant to promote discussion within the Vancouver Theatre Community. GVPTA supports its member companies.