BWW Review: Jivesh Parasram's TAKE D MILK, NAH? Tackles Identity and Self-Awareness at Ottawa's National Arts Centre
Jivesh Parasram is a Hindu-Indo-Caribbean-Canadian, born and raised in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. Parasram spends the first twenty minutes of the show explaining what an identity play is and why he finds it so distasteful and pretentious (and for some odd reason, very trendy in Canadian theatre). He then spends the rest of the show essentially performing an identity play. Ironic, isn't it? However, this is not a bad thing: Parasram's experiences are unique and, yet, upon reflection, they are not so unique. After all, many of us - as refugees, immigrants, and first-generation Canadians - have felt excluded from so-called "privileged" or normal society, unaccepted and wanting to belong to the homogenous group. Even members of society that outwardly seem to fit the norm may be bullied into feeling like outcasts. We do not necessarily identify ourselves as being marginalized or recognize that our experience is shared with other people in similar situations. Nor do we realize that these shared experiences can actually be powerful and inspire us to create societal changes. Or, further still, that these changes may lead us dangerously down the path of treating others in the same way that we have been treated.
Parasram realizes that, in order to find one's own identity, one must first determine what identity is and why it is important. Inevitably, parallels are made to religion and the purpose of religion. Like identity, religion provides comfort and guidance, but in the grand scheme of things, does it really matter?
Parasram's play delves into these themes and, although the subject matter is certainly thought-provoking, his method of communicating these philosophical ideas is entertaining and full of humour, such as his Hin-dos and Hin-don'ts. Also, his impression of a Trinidadian cow is udderly hilarious (ha-ha).
I don't want to include any spoliers because I believe that to achieve the full benefit of this show is to experience it as it unfolds. I will say that I think the best shows are the ones that stay with you long after you leave the theatre. Take d Milk, Nah? resoundingly falls into this category.
This show is funny, relevant, and may even change how you reflect upon your own identity because, at the end of the day, we are all Jiv. Do yourself a favour and go see it.
Take d Milk, Nah? is a co-production from Toronto's Pandemic Theatre and Vancouver's Rumble Theatre and is playing at the National Arts Centre's Azrieli Studio through January 25, 2020. Click here for more information or for tickets.
Photo credits: Marko Kovacevic and Graham Isador.