Friday, 1 March 2013

Kanjoos - The Miser

Dundee Rep
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


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