Edinburgh International Festival
Siddhartha also has a baggage load of hidden history to seek out in a play that moves across decades and countries that don’t feel any closer just because they’re a phone call away. Now 2004, and with Sidd’s father Thirru long presumed killed during the turmoil of two decades earlier, when that call comes, Siddhartha and Radha’s world is turned upside down once more. As things rewind to almost half a century earlier, when Radha and Thirru first met, this time it’s personal.
The ambition and scope of Shakthidharan’s play is brought to life by sixteen actors and three musicians in Eamon Flack’s serious but playful production. Beyond a surface naturalism that prevails during domestic scenes, more out-front storytelling techniques are utilised, as steeped in history as their subject, with live translation from actors perched at the edge of the action becoming part of the show’s aesthetic. This makes for a beautiful spectacle, played out on designer Dale Ferguson’s wide open set, and with composer Stefan Gregory’s underscore performed live onstage by three musicians.
Nadie Kammallaweera and Vaishnavi Suryaprakash give the play its heart as the older and younger versions of Radha, playing opposite Antonythasan Jesuthasan and Kaivalya Suvarna as Thirru, while Shiv Palekar’s Siddhartha seeks enlightenment with Abbie-Lee Lewis’ Lily. With Sri Lankan politics more volatile than ever, this fractured dynasty may be reconciled for now, but there are storms to come beyond this mighty tale.
Until August 14.
The Herald, August 10th 2022