On the same day as Prime Minister David Cameron announced that India should become the UK’s partner of choice, South London fringe theatre, Tara Arts, launched its latest production which is very much a partnership of East and West.
Kanjoos began life as Moliere’s restoration comedy The Miser but, thanks to Hardeep Singh Kohli’s quirky adaptation, it is now set in modern India and is, says director and co-adaptor Jatinder Verma, a comedy of our times.
It’s a strange but interesting mix, with pop and street language going hand in hand with traditional Indian music and dance, performed by an energetic and enthusiastic cast.
Moliere’s story of the rich moneylender and his two children who want to escape his household and marry their respective lovers has, on this occasion, shades of both Shakespeare and pantomime, while singer Sohini Alam takes us to a different level as her rich voice encompasses everything from jazz and scat singing and pop to traditional Indian songs.
In the title role, Antony Bunsee is most comic, though a little too manic at times. And despite being, as his son says, a ‘fly-sucking dictator’, his ever-smiling face and habit of getting sayings the wrong way round, like ‘when shove comes to push’, makes him almost endearing and certainly not the villain of the piece.
The six-strong, mainly bare-footed cast – who sit behind screens at the back of the stage when they are not performing and address the audience rather than each other when they do – are somewhat versatile. For instance, Krupa Pattani instantly transforms from the miser’s slim, traditionally dressed daughter to the big-breasted, big-hipped housemaid with just the donning of a padded apron, and Sam Kordbacheh doubles up as her lover and a very competent oboe player.
Kanjoos The Miser continues at the Theatre Royal Windsor until 23 Feb and then tours:
26 Feb-2 Mar: Dundee Rep
6-9 Mar: Stratford Circus, London
12 Mar: Key Theatre, Peterborough
14-15 Mar: Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury
20-23 Mar: Theatre Royal BSE, Bury St