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Queen’s Theatre: The Game of Love and Chai

23rd April 2018
Posted by Ros Connors

The French farce The Game of Love and Chance, originally written in 1737, is given a makeover here by Tara Arts, with the events now taking place in today’s Britain, and featuring a suburban Asian family instead of French nobility.
Nigel Planer, of BBC’s ‘The Young Ones’, and Channel 4’s ‘The Comic Strip Presents…’, has adapted Pierre de Marivaux’s comedy about love and class with varying degrees of success. Jatinder Verma ably directs the show making it vibrant and colourful.
The story remains much the same as the original: Attractive and very independent young solicitor Rani (Sharon Singh) is engaged to a dark handsome man, successful businessman Raj (Adam Samuel-Bal), but they have never met. Both employ a little deception to observe each other by swapping identities with other people to hide their true status. And so Rani becomes her cousin Sita (Kiren Jogi), while Raj employs the help of an unwilling mini-cab driver Nitin (Ronny Jhutti). Will the betrothed really fall in love with each other without the pressures of an arranged marriage?
The script is pacey and there is lots of quick witted dialogue, sometimes too much, but with few laugh-out-loud moments. It is a cast of six, three boys and three girls, with elegant matriarch Kamala-Ji (Goldy Notay) in her beautifully coloured sari, stealing the show, wandering around the one and only set, the back garden of the house, in a drunken stupor for much of the time as she assists the deception. Equally likable is her somewhat camp son Sunny (Deven Modha), who shows off a lot with his plastic cricket bat as mum pours another glass.
Expect lots of pouting from the young women, showing off by the men, and displays of cheap fashion and jewellery and there is the occasional interlude with the cast lip-synching a Bollywood hit in true Mumbai style.
Towards the end, Rani appears to be getting it together with Raj, while Sita pairs up with Nitin, and it is all going to end happily ever after.
A final costume change into traditional French attire gives a suitable nod to the original version of the play as the cast sign off.
Not a bad production by Tara Arts, the company now taking it on tour through the rest of April and into May.
Nice to see a mixed audience, many from ethnic backgrounds, packing out the Queen’s, proving once again that original theatre is alive and well and flourishing in Hornchurch.

Ros Connors
Gateway 97.8