Set in an outer suburban spice shop, The Perfume Garden explores some of multiculturalism’s absurdities. Chitra and Satya want nothing more than to see their aging son Anand settle down, get married and take over the family business. His girlfriend Devi seems to be the perfect match – and has also been dodging a bullet most of her adult life.
The play opens on their ‘proposal day’ (the first part of an Indian wedding). However, Anand is reluctant to set a date for the engagement, let alone the wedding. His parents feel that time is running out: not just for Anand as a ‘catch’… but also for them as they become older and suffer ill health. They use Ayah as a metaphor for what lies ahead.
Anand is hapless. A writer/ actor, who clearly has been unsuccessful in his career. He has moved back home. But for his own ‘independence’, he has relocated to the granny flat at the back of the shop. He lives his life in his head. His only escape from the mundane life of selling spices, is to fantasize about being in his own Bollywood movie.
He dabbles with perfumes, believing the Indian exotic oils his father used to sell, have both medicinal and magical powers. He is forced into looking after an old lady named Ayah. A distant relative by marriage, Ayah is an 80 year old stroke victim.
Through the magical perfumes, Anand releases Ayah as a genie. She tries to unleash the the aspects of him that have been suppressed. Bringing the fantasy into reality. Her job is to ‘bring a blessing’ to him. She does this by making him see what is inside. Ayah unleashes havoc on the family: creating magical perfumes that have unusual side effects!
Directed by Paul Watson, The Perfume Garden features Vishwajeet Pradhan, a well known Bollywood actor who will head the cast as Satya, with Laura Lattuada portraying his wife Chitra. Rajendra Moodley plays their son Anand, and his love interest Devi is performed by Sacha Joseph. The mystical Aya will be channelled by Khema de Silva.
The show features 9 dance numbers, presented as opulent fantasies, with a dance cast of 15 in stunning Bollywood costumes from India. Choreographed by Jagritti Bhatia, The Perfume Garden features dancers from Ignite Bollywood and The Victorian State Ballet Company. Lighting design is by Jason Bovaird.
“A fragrant curry of magical realism, romantic comedy and subcontinental satire… it’s funnier and more lively than ever.” – Cameron Woodhead (The Age, 2007)
The Perfume Garden
Chapel Off Chapel, 12 Little Chapel Street, Prahran
Season: 3 – 13 August 2017
For more information, visit: www.theperfumegarden.com.au for details.
Image: Sacha Joseph and Rajendra Moodley with dancers from The Perfume Garden (supplied)