Shiv


Thursday 23rd April 2015

Shiv

Curve

Shiv runs from 22nd to 25th April in the studio at Curve

A Curve production

Directed by Suba Das
A play by Aditi Brennan Kapil
Designer Kevin Jenkins
Lighting by David Holmes
Music and sound by Adam McCready for Poetic Machines.

Our rating: ****

Emily Lloyd-Saini as Shiv and Andrew Joshi as Bapu Pamela Raith Photography
Emily Lloyd-Saini as Shiv and Andrew Joshi as Bapu
Pamela Raith Photography

The European première production of Shiv by the American play playwright Aditi Brennan Kapil, never seen before in the UK, explores what it means to grow up between worlds. The central character Shivatri – played by Emily Lloyd-Saini – is at home with Star Trek as she is with the Ramayana (the Sanskrit epic poem ascribed to the Hindu sage and Sanskrit poet Valmiki) and is a woman of Indian origin who moved to live in the USA.

The play had four actors: Emily Lloyd-Saini in the lead role of Shiv, Andrew Joshi as Bapu (Shiv’s father), Robin Bowerman as The Professor and Ian Keir Attard as  Gerard (The Professor’s nephew.)

Andrew Joshi as Bapu and Emily Lloyd-Saini as Shiv. Pamela Raith Photography
Andrew Joshi as Bapu and Emily Lloyd-Saini as Shiv.
Pamela Raith Photography

Aditi Brennan Kapul is a writer, actress and director of Bulgarian and Indian descent who was raised in Sweden and now lives in Minneapolis.  She is noted for her plays Love Person, Agnes Under The Big Top, A Tall Tale and her latest trilogy of works Brahman/i, The Chronicles of Kalki and Shiv.

Shiv is a stunning new play about multicultural identity in the 21st century, both  heart-breaking and hilarious; it follows a young Punjabi-American woman Shiv and her quest to find out the truth about her father, an aspiring poet who moved his family from India to the US, seeking a better life. As the beautiful and enigmatic Shiv begins a summer romance with Gerard, the ghosts of her childhood begin to appear, and we learn of her loving but ultimately devastating relationship with her Star-Trek obsessed Dad. Filled with sharp, witty observations on multi-cultural society, this stunning new play explores what it means to live in two worlds at once.

The audience appreciated the moments of humour, which cropped up regularly throughout the show. The play was in one-act (without a break) Shiv being on stage throughout as the other members of the cast came and went.  The minimalist set was centered around a double mattress which served as Shiv’s sofa, bed and imaginary star ship. A small radio was another focal prop – used as a pretend communication device on Shiv’s imaginary space ship.  The story unfolded in bits and pieces, some scenes being in the present and other being flash-backs. A little hard to follow at times, the story line was nevertheless absorbing, if enigmatic but that gave its charm. The actors fitting their roles exceedingly well with Emily Lloyd-Saini delivering a convincing and appealing portrayal of Shiv.

Ian Keir Attard as Gerard and Emily Lloyd-Saini as Shiv. Pamela Raith Photography
Ian Keir Attard as Gerard and Emily Lloyd-Saini as Shiv.
Pamela Raith Photography

The play explored the themes of self-discovery, the clash between cultures and the dialogue between reality and imagination. The one-act play was peppered with images, icons and similes, often being represented by various props that were taken from an assembly of cardboard boxes and by the dialogue (which, at times, had a clipped, conversational style and at others were scene-setting or recollective monologues) and often felt like poetry.

A play that was challenging but one that held me spellbound throughout, Shiv is another triumph for Curve Productions and also for Aditi Brennan Kapil.

Also tonight at Curve – the launch of the Inside Out Festival.