BWW Review: A FINE BALANCE at Q Theatre
"A Fine Balance" is the result of a partnership between Auckland Theatre Company and Prayas Theatre, who have an impressive record of South Asian performances over the last 14 years.
The synergy of a simple set, clever lighting and a superb vision has transporting powers; difficult to achieve but when it happens it's sublime. Director Ahi Karunaharan and his creative team have achieved just that and more with 'A Fine Balance' that opened on Saturday night at Q Theatre.
From the moment we sat in our seats we became compelling observers of another time and place, engaging with ordinary people, striving for ordinary rights in extraordinary times.
This magnificent story delivers a message of resilience in the face of the inhumane. The investment in both hope and dignity is craftily woven between cast and audience capturing and connecting us to both the trauma and the triumph of the human spirit. This is a must see; a reminder of what happened in the not-too-distant-past and a push to think about our present and future.
Based on Rohinton Mistry's Booker Prize shortlisted novel, "A Fine Balance" showcases the talent of our South Asian actors and creatives, bringing both a different world view and huge talent to Auckland Theatre Company.
Almost to the day 45 years ago Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi declares a state of emergency, 'cleaning up the city' by driving thousands of poor from their homes. Men are sterilised without choice in an attempt to reduce the population of the lower castes."What are their lives, sitting in the gutters looking like corpses.'
With the state of emergency in place, the media are shut down and the setting for disregard of basic human rights is in place.
The story follows Dina, a Parsi widow who is determined to keep her independence by hiring two Hindu tailors and taking on a boarder to make ends meet.
The cast is strong, their performances are memorable, the movement from one part of the story to another is clever and cohesive. The inclusion of puppetry, the effective use of props and the metaphor of the sweeping brooms all come together with the fine movement, perfect pacing and the superb delivery of characters. The Creatives get the big tick for clever designs that merged well, illuminating the story.Rashmi Pilapitiya plays a proud Dina, hiding her stress and honouring the dignity of her character. Ravikanth Gurunathan's portrayal of beggar Shankar finds joy within the worst of scenarios, whilst operating a trolley that replaces his legs.
Tailors Mel Odedra and Mustaq Missouri are more transparent about their dilemmas and struggles to find reason within the injustice but they surely do. Boarder Manek (Mayen Mehta) and Kalyani Nagarajan's Mrs Gupta highlighted their characters with charismatic quirkiness.
Jatinder Singh's Beggarmaster is confronted with the struggle between making his money and honouring his family; albeit illegitimate.
Auckland is one of the most multicultural cities in the world and if this offering is going to be the benchmark of quality for future collaborations then we are in for theatrical treats. Go see it.
A Fine Balance
14 June - 6 July