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Brimful of Asha

Thursday, 09 October 2014 14:48

Arranged marriage is the subject of a very unique and wildly popular production running through October 10th at Soulpepper Theatre. The Distillery district’s Young Centre is playing host to Ravi and Asha Jain, a mother and son duo that are the stars of this show.

The show focuses on the tricky discussion around Ravi’s hopes and dreams as a performer versus his mother’s stalwart duty to make sure her children are paired up with the appropriate life mate.

This is a very loose show, just Ravi and his mom on stage (they even welcome the audience onstage to have a samosa at the beginning of the performance). Neither is using microphones, and Ravi starts the show by explaining that the story they will tell all happened in 2007.

As Ravi tells his side of the story, Asha jumps in with killer punch lines (as only an aging Indian mother could deliver). He sets them up, and she knocks them down with pure originality. The laughs are a plenty, but the drama of their argument is still palpable after what must be dozens and dozens of performances.

So how did Jain convince his mother, a woman with no acting experience and someone who does not particularly love the theatre, to take part in this very personal performance?

“I would say she was a little bit afraid, but she would say she wasn’t, which is in keeping in line with the show,” explains Jain.

“I said to her that I am going to make a one man show and I made a character of you, and I am going to tell the world what a bad mother you are. She said, if I was onstage, the audience would agree with me and see what a terrible son you were. I said, let’s put your money where your mouth is. We developed it over time and made it into a play.”

The story tells of Ravi’s parent’s unrelenting efforts to find him a mate using what they call “Bio data”. Basically love resumes that families share with each other. His parents even show up to India while he backpacks through the countryside in hopes of introducing him to the right girl.

Seeing Brimful of Asha is like being a fly on the wall at an event you wouldn’t otherwise have been invited to. By the end, one might argue that their debate is perhaps more universal than meets the eye. Mothers will always worry and play for their children.

Brimful of Asha continues at Soulpepper through Saturday and then hit the road stopping in Burlington, Thunder Bay, Milton, Kingston and St Catherine’s.

The show is very informal and so very accessible. It may be a touch long at just over 90 minutes, but the experience is so unique, it’s totally worth it.

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