BWW Review: THE GAME OF LOVE & CHAI, Tara Arts Theatre

BWW Review: THE GAME OF LOVE & CHAI, Tara Arts Theatre

BWW Review: THE GAME OF LOVE & CHAI, Tara Arts TheatreRani, the strait-laced solicitor, hatches a plot with her cousin Sita, the beautician with the boobs and the bantz, to check out Raj, the pharmacist with the Ph.D, who is lining up Rani to be his queen. They swap identities so Rani can observe Raj undercover, while covered in Primark.

Meanwhile (doncha just know it), regal Raj is pulling the same scam with his wide boy driver Nitin, the better to check out Rani. Thrown together by Rani's mother, Kamala-Ji and her equally mischievous brother, Virat Kohli wannabe Sunny, the driver who's not a driver falls for the solicitor who's not a solicitor and the pharmacist who's not a pharmacist falls for the beautician who's not a beautician. A puckish plot indeed!

But will they disentangle the duplicity and get the dosa with the sambar and the naan with the dhal?

Nigel Planer has given Pierre de Marivaux's 1730 farce a Bollywood makeover, transforming it into a sexy, spicy caper with plenty of in-jokes for those expecting a dance sequence in Switzerland and plenty of laughs for those who enjoy the pleasure of watching a classic French farce run through its structural disciplines. Rather like one of our wondrous South Indian vegetarian restaurants just up the road in Tooting, there really is something for everyone here.

As they should, the cast have a lot of fun. Adam Samuel-Bal and Sharon Singh make a handsome couple caught up in their own too-clever-by-half scamming, getting their fair share of laughs too. Goldy Notay presides over the chaos with a half-smile and twinkling eye and Deven Modha channels some of Alan Cumming's fey camp as her sidekick son, Sunny.

The show is stolen by jack-the-lad and jill-the-girl turns from Ronny Jhutti, boyishly rogueish as the under-the-thumb Uber man, and Kiren Jogi, the 21st century girl with the outsize personality in the traditional outfit. Their parts are the most "farcical" but they milk them for all their worth and why not? (Yes, there's more than a hint of commedia dell'arte roots showing and not just in the panto-style breaking of the fourth wall).

Theatre, London, bloody hell, life itself, do not have enough laughs these days, so hats off to this lovely little theatre for going all out to get them. And if all the jokes don't land like a six hit into the crowd at Eden Gardens, well, like the buses that the London's Mayor's father used to drive up and down the road outside, there'll be another along in a minute or two.

The Game of Love & Chai continues at the Tara Arts Theatre until 24 March and subsequently on tour.

Photo Simon Annand

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