It’s a testament to good stage craft when a four person ensemble cast can make the large stage of the Debating Hall at the Gilded Balloon crackle with energy. From the minute the actors come bounding onto stage their exuberance reverberates through the auditorium catching everyone up in this tale of ambition, hope, friendship and Bollywood. Brilliantly choreographed and superbly acted against a simple backdrop, this show proves you don’t need a big budget to produce a big hit.
Our protagonists are two friends who work in a take away restaurant. One, a frustrated actor unable to get parts due to racial stereotyping in Scotland, is sick of his humdrum life and dreams of fame and fortune in Bollywood. His companion is forever supportive and goes with him to Mumbai, but not all works out as they would want it. Their naivety is contrasted by the dark and seedy side of showbiz they encounter, with prostitutes and sleazy producers all taking their pound of flesh. The story takes their lust for success to the extreme, with dire consequences. The action is interspersed with Bollywood dancing to an eclectic soundtrack ranging from Bangra to Jeff Buckley and the choreography is mesmerising, with a highlight being their flight to Mumbai. Moving around two door frames and wooden boxes painted black, the set may be sparse but never feels lacking in any way: the performances completely capture the greasy take away and the heat, sounds and smells of the streets of India. There are some excellent caricatures of Asian stereotypes as two of the cast play all the personalities the lead roles encounter and all round the actors are inspiring. The physicality of the piece is infectious and the audience need little encouragement to join in clapping on the occasions where the fourth wall is broken.
Written by Manjot Sumal and Umar Ahmed this black comedy is a wee gem. Produced by Glasgow based NLP Theatre Company it’s a testament to the quality of some theatre being produced in Scotland at the moment that can often be lacking in the productions from the major companies. Whether you like Bollywood or not this play is a highly enjoyable experience. The script could do with some tweaking: towards the end the language becomes a little over blown, but for its energy and visual impact you will want to “please come again” as the blurb asks.
Gilded Balloon, until 26/08/13, 15:00 (1 hr), £11.50/10.50