Take a stunning cast of over a dozen South Asians of all ages and genders, throw in handfuls of song, dance, colour and exuberant tenacity across seventeen beautifully curated short theatre pieces and you have the spectacular First World Problems 2.0.
Following on from First World Problems, Prayas Theatre returns under artistic curator and director Sananda Chatterjee to reclaim their own narratives and “present them to the world as we see fit”. For if one does not tell their own story will it be told for you? Cleansed, re-packaged, stripped of any authentic essence of who you truly are, is it your narrative any longer.
Using the entirety of the stage floor and a small handful of props, each piece is unfurled before the audience. Beginning with the spoken word prologue In the Margins, the cast soon shifts to the outskirts for Boom Shankar performed by the charming Bala Murali Shingade whose comedic musings whilst detonating a bomb have an underlying tongue in cheek wit to them that he lets drop with perfect timing.
Wedding attire dilemmas delivered in rhyme soon make way for the community pressures of marrying a suitable partner before the threat of impending middle-age; a woman’s self-worth and happiness reduced to a mere afterthought in comparison to what is seen as the right thing to do within the community of your family and peers.
Through the outstanding acting of each of the Prayas cast members, the audience are taken through a myriad of stories that encompass both joy and heartbreak. A daughter thanks her mother for always being by her side, a therapist session descends into hilarious chaos and a rather interesting lesson on the word Chutiya and it’s many and varied uses, while Text Message explores the minefield of how to reply to the text of someone you like without coming across… well… desperate. A subject that no doubt many in the audience could get behind.
While some of the performances may have struggled just a touch to fully convey their message in the allotted time – those such as The Raj Mahal Privilege Club written and performed by Shweta Tomar were delivered with such satirical bite that it left you smarting. Cleverly exploring privilege and one’s place amongst it, Tomars’ performance was a definitive highlight that not only provided food for thought but questions that humanity in general should be asking themselves on a regular basis.
Communication, cultural assimilation, a spoken word performance from Gemishka Chetty that is as poignant as it is powerful; Prayas Theatre offers up a smorgasbord of delights that will inform, entertain and connect with people on multiple levels.
No matter your age, gender, cultural identity, ethnicity or economic status, the human art-form of storytelling is one that we can all participate in and learn from. First World Problems 2.0 offers an opportunity to immerse oneself in the stories of others, to laugh, to cry and to empathise with not only those on stage but those around you. Grab it with both hands while you can.
~ Sarah Kidd
Tickets and showtime details here.