TARA by Mahesh Dattani, directed by Sally Jones, with Jay Kazim, Brinda Muralidhar, Isaac Thomas, Tanya Pillay, Rajiv Punj and Ajit Ray. Presented by Rasik Arts at Dancemakers Studio (55 Mill). Runs to February 15, Tuesday-Saturday 8 pm (except no evening show February 14), matinee Sunday and February 14 at 2:30 pm. $15, Tuesdays pwyc, bring your Valentine February 14 and he/she gets in for half-price. 416-654-9231. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
Once-conjoined wins Chandan Once-conjoined wins Chandan
and Tara, brother and sister, are connected at more than the hip. The way they're treated by a society that values men and male qualities more than women and female traits gives a striking twist to Indian playwright Mahesh Dattani 's Tara .
Written in flashback as playwright Chandan ( Isaac Thomas ) tries without much success to sort out the rarely happy twists in his self-termed freakish life, the story gathers power as various family relationships and connections to others become strained.
Director Sally Jones 's production is stronger in the latter half, when the siblings, who were surgically separated at three months, show their feelings for each other. The work's best scenes, in fact, are between Thomas and Jay Kazim as Tara. There's an underlying sense of trust, of closeness, that goes beyond the text, and the two actors are skilled at playing with their characters' occasional ironies about themselves and others.
They get good support from Tanya Pillay 's Roopa, a gossipy schoolmate who has her own plans for Chandan, and Brinda Muralidhar as the twins' mother, teetering on the edge of sanity and especially protective of her daughter.
There's clever craft in the way Dattani plays out his story and its male/female roots - a surgeon's clinical description of what's entailed in the operation contrasts neatly with the emotional ramifications wrought by the medical miracle - but the production would be more affecting if its rhythms were less slack and scene transitions not so choppy.