Let’s Review: Laughter spills all through ‘Rafta, Rafta’— a gem of a comedy playing at the Old Globe
By Diana Saenger
The gales of laughter hailing from the Old Globe Theatre are coming from audiences enjoying the West Coast premiere of “Rafta, Rafta,” onstage through April 24. The 2008 Olivier Award-winning comedy by Ayub Khan-Din brings Indian family traditions forefront when a recently married couple must live with the groom’s family. The British play examines what happens when a young couple must choose between saving money or their marriage …
… The Dutt family migrated to England years ago. The play opens as the wedding of second-generation son Atul Dutt (Rachid Sabitri) and Vina Patel (Mahira Kakkar) is about to take place. Merriment and dancing fill the stage until it’s time for the evening to wind down.
At the Dutt home, both sets of parents are anxious to let their children retreat to their room, which happens to be located right across the hall from Atul’s parents Eeshwar (Kamal Marayati) and Lopa (Geeta Citygirl Chopra), and his brother Jai (Ariya Ghahramani).
But before the “send-off,” the women congregate in the kitchen where Vina begs her mother Lata (Gita Reddy) to quit talking about sex while in the living room, Eeshwar wants to party.
As the girls re-enter it’s soon apparent that Eeshar and Atul don’t get along. Eeshwar says what he thinks and acts out his thoughts while Atul is quiet, reserved, shy. When Eeshwar has too much to drink and falls down, the newlyweds bid farewell to their parents and head upstairs.
Although Atul takes steps to make the room romantic while Vina changes, the wedding night is a disaster because Atul can’t consummate the marriage. Vina, of course, is so perplexed she spills the beans to her mother, and soon everyone knows Vina remains a virgin after weeks of marriage.
As the families get to know one another and try to help the newlyweds as best they can, personalities flare. Lata keeps a tight rein on Eeshwar, Vina chastises her mother for babbling, her father Laxman (Nasser Faris) tries to hold on to his daughter, and Jai becomes moon-eyed over Vina, too.
The play, directed by Jonathan Silverstein, is filled with music and funny one-liners, and the characters are easy to like — even the crazy Molly (Carolyn Kozlowski). On the downside, trying to deliver lines in an Indian dialect with a British accent is difficult and many words spoken were missed, dulling some conversations.
Despite the troubled accents, “Rafta, Rafta” is a fun time with a simple story that requires little work to understand. It takes even less work to really enjoy it and have a good time.
If you go
What: “Rafta, Rafta”
Where: The Old Globe Theatre, 1363 Old Globe Way, Balboa Park
When: 7 p.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays; 8 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays; 2 and 7 p.m. Sundays, through April 24
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