BOMBAY BLACK by Anosh Irani, directed by Brian Quirt (Cahoots Theatre Projects). At the Theatre Centre (1087 Queen West). Runs to January 22. 416-538-0988, www.totix.ca. See listings, page 66. Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNN
A hectic week of theatre openings ended well at the Theatre Centre with Bombay Black , Anosh Irani 's sultry, spooky and surreal tale of thwarted love and bittersweet revenge.
In a seaside apartment in Bombay, Padma ( Deena Aziz ) sells dances by her daughter Apsara ( Anita Majumdar ) to local men. The simmering resentment between the women comes to full boil when Kamal ( Sanjar Talwar ), who is blind, comes to "see" Apsara dance.
Two major plot twists involve the connections among these three, leading them to a crossroads between the painful past and the possibly hopeful future for one of the women, free of the evil deeds committed against her.
Aziz plays Padma's lust for revenge with a light hand, grounding the character's madness in her businesslike manner and cool delivery.
Majumdar, opposite Talwar's gentle, dreamy Kamal, plays Apsara's emotional exhaustion with real force. Their relationship beautifully captures the optimism of love against all odds.
Camellia Koo 's functional, clean set acts like a fourth character, setting the mood to unveil the mysteries of Irani's plot. Backlighting throws huge shadows onto the fabric walls of the playing space, literally casting a threatening darkness over the action itself. Director Brian Quirt tackles the story with a strong sense of scene composition, anchoring Irani's text with strong, often disturbing images.
One flaw late in the second act slows the action nearly to a halt when Aziz's and Majumdar's lines fall into a singsong rhythm, top-loading every word with so much meaning that the whole scenario threatens to turn into an episode of Dynasty.
The final scene between Majumdar and Talwar brings the piece back to life, and I'm sure that during the rest of the run this little problem will have been fixed.