The Jains have still got it
Have you ever had those moments where your family is completely suffocating you? Telling you what to do, where to go, and maybe even who to marry? Well that is certainly the way Ravi Jain felt when he decided to work with his mother Asha to create the piece that we now know as Brimful of Asha. Originally performed at Tarragon after being published in 2012, Brimful tells the very real story of Ravi’s trip to India with his parents constantly harping on him to get married. The story is told in tandem between Ravi and Asha, who both put their own personal twist and thoughts on the events that happened.
Audience members walk into the Young Centre’s Michael Young Theatre and are immediately greeted personally by Ravi and Asha as well as with some freshly baked samosas. The audience sits, and then the two stars address them directly to begin their story. This is by no means a play, and is instead a very honest conversation between Ravi and his mother. They explain that they are from two different cultures, with Ravi considering himself to be culturally Canadian first and part of an Indian culture second, while his India-born mother feels the opposite. Their clashing cultures create a fantastic, witty and heart-warming back-and-forth atmosphere. Their real emotions and words come out through their telling of the story and we, as the audience, can’t help but start to choose sides. Ravi’s story begins with the completion of his Graduate studies. When he receives a job offer to run a workshop in India, he and a friend decide to make an entire trip of it. There’s only one catch: his parents are planning on setting him up with a girl for a potential marriage. Bad goes to worse when his parents inform Ravi that they are also going to be joining him on the trip so that they can meet up with the family that they wish Ravi would marry into. Asha goes on to explain how, being of Indian culture, her son should be following his parents’ wishes and get married as soon as possible with a woman whose family matches well with their own.
Under the direction of Ravi and his theatre company Why Not Theatre, the piece takes us on a wonderful journey with two loveable people for what we wish was much more than only eighty minutes. Ravi, who was dressed in a combination of clothing that mirrored his own cultural mashup, with a traditional Indian shirt and very Canadian blue jeans underneath, is witty, charming and incredibly enthusiastic. Asha, on the other hand, is sweetly stubborn and quick with comebacks. As they are not actors performing a scene (in this context: Ravi is actually a multi-award winning actor) it’s hard to comment on their “characters” as the show is a real and honest presentation of who they were.
Julie Fox’s simplistic, yet effective, set design keeps the two characters in focus during the piece. The set compliments their stories perfectly with a single television propped up above the kitchen table, display maps of India showcasing their travel (Indiana Jones style), and several family photos, as well as other props defining important parts of the story to the audience who may be unfamiliar with Indian customs (kudos to Beth Kates for making that work perfectly).
Brimful of Asha will be staying at the Young Centre until the 11th, and from there the tour will continue into North Bay, Milton, Burlington, Kingston, St. Catherine’s and Sudbury. If you find yourself in any of these locations, I urge you to go and see this piece. With a delightful insight into a different culture, a witty and heart-warming display of family values, and a sweet duo that you just want to take home with you, this show is a can’t miss!