We’re not supposed to go to the theatre on Thursdays now – Thursday night is dancing night. But I’d booked Mrs. Krishnan’s Party months ago, before dancing at Two Right Feet was even a twinkle in my eye…so we had to miss dancing. Mrs. Krishnan’s Party is a sequel to Krishnan’s Dairy, which was the first production of Indian Ink 20 years ago. We’ve not seen that, but we have seen The Pickle King, another of their productions, and enjoyed it. So when another play was announced I naturally bought tickets straight away.
The show wasn’t until 8 o’clock, so, decadent sybarites that we are, we went for cocktails at CGR Merchant before dinner. Nicola had an “Isn’t She Lovely” and I had a cinnamon-infused martini, whose name escapes me. We then went for a curry at Great India, Wellington’s premier Indian restaurant, where we enjoyed the food but were disappointed by the service: when we arrived they asked us whether we needed to be out by a certain time, and we said yes, by 7:45, to catch our show. No problem, and at least three waiters confirmed this to us as they seated us, took our drinks order, and food order. Given that, as the clock ticked inexorably on to 7:35, we began to feel a bit anxious and called one of the waiters over, to find out what was happening. The food arrived seconds later, but, having gone to so much trouble, you’d think they might have informed the kitchen. Or something. Anyway, we had to rather bolt our dinner, then hurry up the road to Te Auaha, a new venue on Dixon Street that is part of Whitirea and WelTec.
As we entered the venue, we were seated by DJ Jimmy James, in full headdress and Indian party costume. We were seated in the “cheeky seats” i.e. barstools just beyond the inner circle.
Before the show began, James noted that, despite the advice in the email sent a few days ago to ticket-holders, very few people had come in Indian party garb. To correct this, he co-opted various members of the audience to distribute coloured scarves and garlands to everyone. Once he was satisfied with the audience, the show could start.
Onam is the Hindu harvest festival, and is full of music, dancing, food and general merrymaking. James, a student, is Mrs. Krishnan's lodger, and has decided to organise a surprise Onam party for his landlady. To this end, he has invited us to his party, and he briefs us on how he’s going to spring the surprise on Mrs. Krishnan. When he does so she is understandably shocked, horrified even, and initially tries to get rid of us. But, as James had predicted, she is eventually mollified and, as her guests, starts to cook a dhal to help us celebrate Onam. Yes, they do actually do live cookery on stage, with a little help from some audience members. This is a hands-on, audience-involvement event, and Mrs. Krishnan isn’t beyond a little sly matchmaking! As the play progresses, the history of Onam is acted out by Mrs. Krishnan, and we find out more about her history, and also that of James.
At the end of the play, the dhal is served to the audience so that they can join in the celebration. It’s all good clean fun, and you should go and see it if you get the chance!