WINDY CITY TIMES
||THEATER Merchant on Venice
by Mary Shen Barnidge
This article shared 3695 times since Wed Oct 10, 2007
Playwright: Shishir Kurup. At: Silk Road Theatre Project at the Chicago Temple, 77 W. Washington
Phone: 888-745-5849; $28-$33. Runs through: Nov. 4
Shakespeare's observations on the inhumane practices of a Jewish moneylender in 1596 nowadays reveal likewise unprofessional attitudes in his Christian colleagues, for isn't it the nature of business, itself, to bring out the dog-eat-dog side of human beings? Shishir Kurup's take on the controversial classic sets us down in the coastal resort town of Venice, Calif., where South Asian merchants ply their successful trades despite an underlying enmity between Hindu and Islamic communities. Also contributing to divisive tensions are the conflicts between long-established families and newer immigrants, fueled by old-country regional prejudices.
Our story begins with Bombay movie star Jitendra vowing to make Pushpa, the beautiful daughter of the director who gave him his Big Break, the leading lady in his next film and in his life. To this end, he asks his rich-kid buddy, Devendra, for traveling funds. In order to raise the capital quickly, however, the latter must secure a loan from Sharuk, whom he has repeatedly and publicly reviled. The rash Devendra promises that he will permit himself to be castrated if he cannot repay his debt ( and thanks to modern technology, that old 'take flesh, but no blood' loophole isn't going to save him ) .
Side-by-side with this grim premise, however, is a love story precipitated by Pushpa's 'dear dead Daddy's dementia,' the terms of her late sire's will mandating all suitors to engage in a game-show riddle involving three DVDs. Additional topical intrigue is provided by Sharuk's own rebellious daughter, who longs to abandon her burqa for a rock-and-roll lifestyle with a Latino musician. Oh, did I mention the trial before the South Asian Businessmen's Union—acronym 'SABU'—where Pushpa is allowed to participate only if she dresses in women's garb? The iambic pentameter? The multiple contemporary pop-references? The Bollywood-musical revels?
One would expect the action of so volatile-themed a fable to quickly disintegrate into desperate time-stepping. But despite a few forced end-rhymes, Kurup's concept paints an accurate picture of its social and theological milieu. That we, too, recognize the justice and logic of his arguments is predominantly due to the intelligent, intensely-wrought performance of Anish Jethmalani, cast against type as the embittered Sharuk, with Kamal Hans' Devendra proving an able sparring partner. And if many of the cultural nuances elude ethnographically-challenged American playgoers ( like me ) , there are no boundaries on cheerful dancers gamboling to catchy rhythms.
This article shared 3695 times since Wed Oct 10, 2007
| ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE|
|SHOWBIZ Coming-out film, James Baldwin, Madonna, 'White Lotus,' women's soccer 2023-03-31|
- Director/co-writer Shariff Nasr's intimate coming-out drama El Houb will be out on Digital and DVD on April 4 via Dark Star Pictures (and in L.A. theaters on April 7), per a press release. The film's decorated ...
|House Musical: Coming of Age in the Age of House, celebrating the house music scene, to run April 20 - 30 2023-03-30|
--From a press release - Chicago, Illinois (March 30, 2023) — Campsongs Productions today announced the on-sale of world premiere musical House Musical: Coming of Age in the Age of House, celebrating Chicago's famed house music scene at the legendary Warehouse ...
|Hell in a Handbag Productions premieres intergalactic queer extravaganza 'I Promised Myself to Live Faster' 2023-03-29|
--From a press release - Hell in a Handbag Productions is pleased to continue its 21st season with the Chicago premiere of I Promised Myself to Live Faster, an intergalactic queer extravaganza ...
|Book of Mormon's Sam Nackman knocks on Cadillac Palace door 2023-03-28|
- The Book of Mormon is returning to Chicago on a mission to convert new followers into the musical fold. The masterminds behind the satirical cartoon series South Park, Matt Stone and Trey Parker created a smash ...
|The Jeff Awards announces recipients of 49th- anniversary non-Equity theater honors 2023-03-28|
--From a press release - MARCH 27, 2023 — CHICAGO — In its 49th anniversary celebration of non-Equity theater excellence, the Jeff Awards recognized 35 award recipients selected from among 167 theater artist nominees across 28 artistic and technical categories. Awar ...
|SHOWBIZ 'Joy Ride,' Cynthia Erivo, David Bowie, March Madness, Kevin Bacon 2023-03-25|
Video below - The first trailer for the upcoming comedy Joy Ride has been released, Out noted. The movie stars Ashley Park, queer Oscar nominee Stephanie Hsu (Everything Everywhere All At Once), bisexual comedian Sherry Cola (Good Trouble) and ...
|Kokandy Productions announces 2023 Season 2023-03-22|
--From a press release - CHICAGO (March 22, 2023) — Kokandy Productions is thrilled to announce its 2023 season, including two fully produced musicals, plus plans for the return of the Chicago Musical Theatre Festival. This summer, Kokandy will dive into ...
|Opera Preview: Life of gay World War II hero Alan Turing transformed into a world-premiere opera 2023-03-17|
- It has taken a decade for The Life and Death(s) of Alan Turing to grow from an idea into a full- fledged opera. Chicago Opera Theater stages the world premiere of composer Justine F. Chen and ...
|Chicago Black Dance Legacy Project to present dance concert 'Sans Pareil' 2023-03-14|
--From a press release - Deeply Rooted Dance Theater joins the Chicago Black Dance Legacy Project again to take the stage in a dance concert entitled Sans Pareil—French for "unparalleled," a nod to the Haitian lineage of Chicago's founder, Jean-Baptiste Pointe ...
|House Musical, Coming of Age in the Age of House, coming to Hoover-Leppen Theatre 2023-03-14|
--From a press release - Campsongs Productions presents the world premiere of House Musical - Coming of Age in the Age of House, with book by Marcus Waller, music by Scott Free (with Michael Foley) and lyrics by Scott Free and ...
|RuPaul's Drag Race WERQ THE WORLD in Chicago Aug. 4 2023-03-12|
--From a press release - RuPaul's Drag Race WERQ THE WORLD, the largest drag show on earth, returns in 2023 with a show in Chicago Aug. 4 and in 100+ cities across the United States, Canada, Australia, Asia, Europe and Mexico! ...
|SHOWBIZ Little Richard, Indigo Girls, Rodriguez's honor, dance film, Pedro Pascal 2023-03-10|
Video below - Produced by Bungalow Media + Entertainment for CNN Films and HBO Max, in association with Rolling Stone Films, director Lisa Cortes' Sundance opening-night documentary Little Richard: I Am Everything will debut in theaters and on VOD ...
|Steppenwolf Theatre Company's 2023 Gala May 13 at The Old Post Office 2023-03-06|
--From a press release - CHICAGO (March 6, 2023) — The Steppenwolf Ensemble and Board of Trustees are pleased to host Steppenwolf 2023 Galaan unforgettable evening celebrating 47 years of powerful and thought-provoking storytelling. Emceed ...
|Center on Halsted presents annual Intergenerational Talent Show 2023-03-06|
- On March 2, Center on Halsted hosted its Fifth Annual Intergenerational Talent Show, featuring performances from participants from the Youth and Family Services and the Senior Services programs. Participants in the free event presented a program ...
|SHOWBIZ Wanda Sykes, Jonas Brothers, 'Queen of Versailles,' 'Bloodshed' 2023-03-04|
Adam Lambert video below - Award-winning comedian Wanda Sykes' new comedy special, I'm An Entertainer, will premiere globally on Netflix on May 23, a press release announced. The special, directed by Linda Mendoza, was filmed in early February 2023 at Philadelphia's ...
|WORLD Venezuela code, Oxfam, Bosnia items, 'Brokeback,' Pope Francis|
|NATIONAL 'Don't Say Gay,' anti-trans bills, gay Irish leader visits, gay Calif. mayor|
|SHOWBIZ 'Joy Ride,' Cynthia Erivo, David Bowie, March Madness, Kevin Bacon|
|Biden appoints Laura Ricketts to Council on Sports, Fitness & Nutrition|
|ALA: 2022 saw record demand of censorship of library books|