Review: Gimme Shelter

GIMME SHELTER written and performed by Ravi Jain, directed by Jenny Koons (Why Not Theatre/Panamania). At the Young Centre for.


GIMME SHELTER written and performed by Ravi Jain, directed by Jenny Koons (Why Not Theatre/Panamania). At the Young Centre for the Performing Arts (50 Tank House). Runs to July 25. $30, stu $20. 416-866-8666, youngcentre.ca. See listing. Rating: NNN

In his visually engaging and thoughtful solo show, Gimme Shelter, Ravi Jain explores some big ideas: empathy, social conscience and how we might respond to “climate refugees,” those millions of people who could be displaced from their homes because of the effects of climate change.

Jain begins by talking about his great-grandfather’s love of stories, and then embarks on an extended tale drawn from The Mahabharata about the lives of two contrasting cousins. This tale takes up most of the show, and Jain uses masks, haunting shadow work (David Leclerc is credited as video designer) and the very careful navigation of Ken Mackenzie‘s set dominated by what appears to be sand to tell it.

He and director Jenny Koons make especially good use of two panels that mark out geography, illuminate sequences and can be violently or quietly moved to suggest transitions.

The show still has a workshop feel, and its pieces haven’t been stitched together in a satisfying way. But it comes from a place of honest inquiry and good intentions, and Jain’s focused, clear performance holds your attention. Plus, the participatory ending I don’t want to reveal any spoilers brings home Jain’s questions in an immediate, visceral and memorable fashion.

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