3 stars As the global village gets smaller, so the comedic appeal of Moliere grows more universal. We've known this in Scotland for years, ever since Liz Lochhead ripped into Tartuffe in the 1980s. More recently, poet Roger McGough put a Scouse spin on the same. Now Scots-Asian comic writer Hardeep Singh Kohl and director Jatinda Verma have transposed Patricia Dreyfuss' translation of the French farceur's study of stinginess to a contemporary cartoon India. This lends a pertinence to the tale of Harjinder's thwarted scheme to buy himself a marriage on the cheap, both in its depiction of austerity culture, and of a society where arranged marriages are still prevalent. This makes for a far brighter affair than such observations might imply, as both Harjinder's son Kishore and daughter Dimple attempt to put love before money. While there are some vivid stylings in Verma's youthful-looking production, particularly in Antony Bunsee's depiction of a decrepit Harjinder, it takes a real poet to make such a yarn fly, and references to Slumdog Millionaire and Bollywood aren't quite enough to move things beyond the superficial. There is fun to be had, however, with Krupa Pattani's cheeky maid, and with Caroline Kilpatrick's posh English go-betweeen Frosine, a woman so obsessed with the exotic allure of Indian spirituality that her "kundalinis are kinetic." The best thing by far about this show is the live three-piece band led by musical director and keyboardist Danyal Dhondy, and featuring compositions by percussionist Hassan Mohgyedddin and singer Sohini Alam. With the cast lip-synching to Alam's vocalisations, the trio fuse low-key Indo-jazz with a music hall brio that puts real spark into a lovely but at times flat affair.
The Herald, March 1st 2013 ends