May 12 2015
Hit play returns after 10 years and recreates an all too typical Indian wedding scenario, complete with laughs and ladoos…
by Tasha Mathur
CELEBRATING its 10th year anniversary, Pravesh Kumar’s exciting, fun-filled production is touring the UK once again with Rifco Arts (the Watford-based theatre company he runs).
The story revolves around Sona (played beautifully by Clara Indrani) who has found herself trapped in the preparations for her traditionally arranged marriage – and one that she promised herself she would never have. But with the non-stop whirlwind wedding circus consuming her, she doesn’t give a moment’s thought to whether she is doing the right thing until it’s too late…or is it?
On entering the auditorium, you are immediately greeted with Bollywood wedding songs and with the buzz and excitement of the audience (some are even dressed in lavish saris) it really does feel like you have been welcomed into an Indian wedding.
But “The Deranged Marriage” takes it one step further…if you’re not keen on audience participation, take care where you sit and not everything has to be completely real. It was slightly gimmicky for me.
There was certainly a light-hearted party atmosphere throughout the play. Think “Bend it Like Beckham” meets “East is East” with a bit of “Goodness Gracious Me” thrown in and you have “The Deranged Marriage“; a story with the oh-so-familiar British-Asian stereotypes that we can’t help but roar with laughter at, despite seeing many times before (and ironically, often the stereotypes audience members embody themselves without realising…ahem, like Auntyjis in the row in front of me).
But boy, does “The Deranged Marriage” have them all. The freshie Aunty who sees herself as the most British woman in ‘Windsor’ (basically Hounslow), the Indian son lying to his parents about being a Doctor (but is actually a DJ), the British UKIP supporter next door who believes her Indian neighbours don’t belong in this country and the dumpy unmarried cousin who will do just about anything to land herself a bloke.
However, putting aside its heavy comedic value, what’s perhaps is most interesting is the fact that despite being 10 years old, the most important theme still resonates with today’s young British-Asian generation.
Although, admittedly, it has waned, there is still the age-old debate surrounding the traditional custom of an arranged marriage vs. the modern concept of following your heart through a love marriage. Despite it being a serious topic, it is played out alongside farcical, almost slapstick situations which make it difficult to keep up.
With one character talking about abolishing the antiquated dowry system one minute and another complaining about the lack of ladoos the next, the immediate jump from serious drama to light-hearted comedy may seem emotionally jarring for some. However, perhaps this feeling represents the madness of the marriage preparations…let’s not forget it is a deranged one!
If you’re looking for a bit of fun on a Saturday night or a chance to unwind after a long day in the office, then this is definitely one to watch.
“The Deranged Marriage” is best enjoyed when taken with a pinch of salt, lots of wolf whistles, cheering and audience participation (if you’re brave enough). Top it off with the obligatory Rail Gaddi at the end of the play and you’ll be leaving the theatre ready to bhangra it out at a real Indian wedding!
Picture: Pramila (Rekha John-Cheriyan), Sona (Clara Indrani), Hema (Veejay Kaur), Lata (Balvinder Sopal), Jenny (Jessica Dennis) by David Fisher