Sara Kumar's Rainbow Room to Benefit Narsad Artworks
"There are moments in life that jolt you off the steady path; slam you into deep, dark waters, and leave you hanging out to dry on a power line. As jarring and dehumanizing as these experiences can be, they provide us with the terrible but sometimes wonderful opportunity of choice. How we choose to emerge from these moments, define us as human beings. And, as artists, we can choose to repaint these ugly and painful scenes on bright, humorous, magical canvasses." - Sara Kumar
The Rainbow Room written and directed by Sara Kumar Theatre Unlimited, NoHo through April 11
It is brave indeed to write about a nervous breakdown, especially one's own, and then to mount it for all the world to see. Such is the case with Sara Kumar, as she retells the story of her young life thus far in an effort to help others find hopeful possibilities for the future of their own lives. Narsad Artworks, which sponsors Kumar's play The Rainblow Room, showcase the artistic talent of people afflicted with mental illness. They do not believe in the term breakdown, but rather breakthrough, for the road ahead is always made brighter by one's recovery.
The Rainbow Room begins in Texas where Kumar's character Kundana (Maria Pallas), a brilliant chemistry teacher, prepares to leave for LA where she will study screenwriting. Her parents (Maralyn Facey and Kanu Kothari), a mixed American/Indian marriage, provide more discouragement than optimism for their daughter's decision. Kundana has a loving IndIan Male friend Deepak (Anup Sugunan) who chats with her daily via computer and offers her spiritual support. She befriends Lisa (Megan Rose), falls into an unrequited love with Ben (Karnell Matthews), an actor who is helping her write a screenplay, dates a neurologist Larry (Marcus Proctor) and tries to make sense out of her life, which little by little is crumbling into pieces. The breakdown at the end of Act I is artistically staged with meaningful mood music and dance as an accompaniment. Act II entails Kundana's recuperation, a trip back to confront Deepak, who she realizes could be the real love of her life, and her plan to rebuild the future.
Pallas gives an electrifying performance as Kundana, full of complicated feelings and confusion about her family's history with schizophrenia, especially about her Aunt Josefa (Ann Marie Morell). Her brave, driven performance makes the play riveting and totally worthwhile. The rest of the cast is very good and Eswari Raja performs some beautiful exotic dancing. Original music by Kumar herself and an assortment of friends enhances the texture of the play's emotions.
The overall experience, although terribly personal, was relished by the opening night audience and will assuredly prove cathartic for those in need.