Review: A Brimful of Asha (Why Not Theatre)

A Brimful of Asha at Toronto’s Tarragon Theatre is a true story about the misadventures of being set up by Indian parents

A Brimful of Asha is not so much a play but more like the sharing of a story. Walking into the theatre feels like walking into someone’s house. Ravi and Asha Jain, the mother and son who share their story, welcome us into their home. They shake everyone’s hand as they come in, introduce themselves and in true Indian fashion promptly offer you a samosa.

Within a couple of minutes I knew that this show would have no middle ground for me. I would either love it or hate it; I’m glad to say I did indeed enjoy it.

The story itself is not new to me. Being of Indian descent I am all too familiar with parents trying to set their children up and see them all married and settled down before it’s “too late”, whatever that means. The pressure is on and relatives all over the world make it their personal business to play matchmaker. When it’s not happening to you, it’s hilarious!

The story follows Ravi’s journey, a Canadian-raised Indian boy, who goes back to India with plans of backpacking across the country with his friend Andrew. Little did he know that he would be ambushed with proposals every step of the way.

I thought it was funny because it’s so true of the culture; I’ve seen stuff like this play out in life and I can relate to the story. There was a multicultural audience at the show and most people seemed to enjoy it and were laughing throughout. I think that was because they really made the show relatable to everyone. Canadians can relate to Ravi and his mindset, while South-Asians definitely can see where Asha is coming from and the two of them together butting heads is quite entertaining. And you walk away with some insight into a different culture.

My show partner didn’t enjoy the show as much and said she started to lose interest as the story just seemed to drag on long after the point had been made. There was also no element of surprise. But I have to say, it’s not that kind of show. It’s meant to be amusing and casual banter and not really a showy theatrical production.

Asha, who is not a trained actress, is Ravi’s real-life mom. The show has such an honest and open air about it and she is so adorable that the audience fell in love with her instantly. Together they’re a great team and if you get a chance you should go check out this show.

It was a full house the night I attended so get your tickets early and don’t worry about the seats. The theatre is set up in such a way that every seat has a truly great view.

Details

A Brimful of Asha is playing at Tarragon Theatre (30 Bridgman Ave) till February 19, 2012
– Shows run Tuesday to Sunday at 8pm, with an additional matinee on Saturday at 2:30pm
– Ticket prices range from $18 – $22
– Tickets are available online or through the box office at 416-531-1827

Photo of Asha and Ravi Jain by Erin Brubacher