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BWW Reviews: SHIV Nearly Transports You to Other Worlds


Shiv/written by Aditi Brennan Kapil/directed by Emilie Beck/The Theatre @ Boston Court/thru August 9, 2015

The west coast premiere of Aditi Brennan Kapil's Shiv receives a simply gorgeous mounting at the Theatre @ Boston Court. Amazing just how far, with the proper elements, your imagination will allow you to go. Shiv relays the story of a young south asian woman transplanted from her homeland to Skoie, Illinois. Monika Jolly embodies this title character, easily convincing us that she's in her twenties (presently) or in her teens (in the many flashbacks) as she attempts to come to grips with her puzzling relationship with her recently departed father Bapu.

Stephanie Kerley Schwartz' first-rate set presents the perfect vehicle to travel thru Shiv's cosmic ocean, via her bedroom in India or her present Skoie lake house. Schwartz' use of props dropping from above by means of exposed pulleys and ropes enhances the mystical aspect of this whole production. Without any set changes, Tom Ontiveros' extremely e ffective lighting and video designs, complemented by Jack Arky's synced sound design, transport us from the real to the existential and back.

Dileep Rao adeptly plays Bapu as a poet, more dreamer than practical family provider. A loving father to Shiv, he has a habit of casually sipping bourbon out of a coke can in his futile attempts to hide his drinking problem from his adoring daughter. When his ambitions to become India's next great poet get knocked back into reality, Bapu undertakes even more questionable behavior.

Shiv queries her father selling knock-off concert teeshirts.She becomes suspicious hearing of a blonde woman always seemingly 'accompanying' her father. Shiv experiences first-hand her father's dark side when they participate in a kite-flying festival. Rao's especially passionate and vivid in his telling of Bapu's kite making, crushing glass into a thin paste to attach to the long tails of his homemade creations. Rao's expressively reveals Bapu's utter joy when his kite tails tangle with other kite strings and his glass-encrusted tails cut competing kites down from the sky.

Present day brings Shiv to the estate of the Professor (a haughty Leonard Kelly-Young). Seems Shiv saw a 'help wanted' flyer at the general store for a caretaker for the Professor's estate. A strong swimmer, Shiv swims to the Professor's private beach, only to be met by his nephew Gerard, a charismatic James Wagner. Wagner and Jolly make Shiv and Gerard's flirting attempts very pleasant to share. Jolly's charming Shiv seduces Wagner's interested Gerard into boarding her imaginary ship to travel her cosmic oceans. Very romantic.

Emilie Beck smoothly directs her cast in this ethereal journey. Unfortunately, when Shiv decides to actually leave the Professor's estate in her imaginary ship, my imagination ceased working. Kapil's resolution, in spite of this blip of disillusionment, does satisfy.

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