Toronto’s Winchester Kitchen and Bar hosts a play about three disagreeing brothers
3 Desis and a Diva is a slice of life of two brothers and their cousin. The play opens with Kavin waxing poetic about the agony of life, flitting from wine bottle to wine bottle before moving on to a pocket flask and a cleverly concealed mini.
Enter Charles, Kavin’s cousin and roommate. Charles is an academic and a writer and the heady foil to Kavin’s tortured poet. Both men find themselves at odds with each other’s writing process and philosophy.
Finally, Vijay, Kavin’s brother, provides the comic relief. He is the sage who offers insight into the characters’ cultural context.
I am not quite sure what the story is because there is no clear or definable arc.
Various themes come up including unrequited love, family acceptance, parental abandonment, cultural and generational clashes, racism, coming out, religion and addiction. Each one of these is worthy of development yet none are ever explored beyond an utterance or two.
There is a well-choreographed fight scene that culminates in a character outing himself as gay but the impetus is not believable enough. The words may be true but there is a glaring absence of emotional veracity.
The actors try but the characters ultimately fall flat. Deshay Padayachey’s Kavin is persistently wild-eyed and is always looking up at the ceiling. Ray Jacildo’s Charles never knows where or how to stand and spends more time reciting his lines than communicating with his cast mates. Noor Mohammed demonstrates a deeper understanding of Vijay and shows the most emotional range of the three actors.
The writing does not support any character transformation. Its strength rests solely with one-liners that, while titter-worthy, are few and far between.
Whether due to the technical limitations of the performance space, an absent technician or a hasty decision, the lighting does not serve the play. Four lights and an orange gel cast stark shadows on stage. The actors are constantly standing in each other’s light or they are stepping out of their own light.
There is no set to speak of and no pretense of set dressing. We are in an apartment that resembles a rehearsal space. There are minimal props and they do nothing to enhance the show.
In the end, I am left with more questions than answers. If Kavin and Vijay are brothers, why does one speak with an accent while the other does not? What is the purpose of the human-sized Ganesh, the hole in the ceiling and the (de)motivational speech that concludes the performance? What exactly is this play trying to communicate?
I look forward to future projects by Orange Shot Productions that explore in depth one of the many important themes introduced in 3 Desis and a Diva.
- 3 Desis and a Diva plays at Winchester Kitchen and Bar (51 Winchester Street) until March 10, 2013
- Shows run Thursday to Sunday at 8pm (no performance on Sunday February 24)
- Tickets are $20 general admission, $15 Promotional Tickets for Mooney readers (enter code word ORANGE13 online), $15 students/youth/arts workers, $10 Promotional Tickets for students/youth/arts workers for Mooney readers (enter code word DESIYOUTH13)
- Tickets can be purchased online or onsite before the start of the show. Box office is cash only.
Photo of Noor Mohammed, Ray Jacildo and Deshay Padayachey by Jenny Alexander