There was blazing sun at the Beck Theatre in Hayes, perfect weather for a wedding and especially for a large Indian wedding. It was a full house who were cordially invited to be guests as Mrs Kapoor, wonderfully played for comic effect by Parle Patel, went through the emotional rollercoaster beginning with the dream of marrying off her eldest daughter to the enormity of it actually happening. As the old adage goes, careful what you wish for.
The promotional material introduced the show as “Bollywood inspired” and that’s exactly what you get. There is a mix of traditional theatre were we see the Kapoor’s lovingly bicker in the traditional way that couples tend to, leading to lots of laughs with observational humour which many of the audience clearly identified with. “It’s not a flying table, is it?” as Mrs Kapoor chastises her husband into tidying the living room.
On the other hand it was also like a Bollywood film, with dance numbers, singers, and drummers to regularly entertain the eager audience. Singers Shahid Abbas Khan and Drupti Vaja had good opportunities to impress us, including a lovely bit of a capella which allowed them to really show off their voices. The dancing, of which there was plenty, was choreographed by Archana Kumar, Anjali Janani (who played Priya), and Rupal Thakrar (who played Sapna, another of the daughters). Kumar, who also wrote and directed the show, is also the founder of AK Bollywood Dance which provided all the dancers for the production.
The core of the proceedings is the believable ‘chemistry’ between Mr and Mrs Kapoor, enlivened with ad-libbing by Patel who managed to slip in a line about “Easter parking”, which gives a strong basis for the rest of the show. We felt comfortable with them, almost as though we’d genuinely been invited round as guests.
It isn’t long, however, before we are introduced to Mrs Kapoor’s five lovely daughters. Initially we are shown pictures of them on a big screen at the back of the stage. The screen turned out to be multi-use over the course of the afternoon. There were several points where it doubled as the iPad or mobile phone screen of a character, so we could share in what they were seeing. This was particularly amusing as Mrs Kapoor starts surfing to find a Mr Right for her eldest daughter, Priya. It was also used as a backdrop for the dance numbers, interesting but never distracting from the dancing, and most impressively to provide a backdrop for the wedding ceremony itself.
I won’t spoil it by giving away any more jokes, of which there were plenty, and how did it all turn out in the end? My lips are sealed. It was a colourful, funny, and engaging show.
The audience had children through to grandmothers there, all of whom seemed to enjoy it – particularly the elderly lady sitting next to me who clearly empathized with some of the situations and the humorous moments. I couldn’t pluck up the courage to ask whether her wedding preparations had been similar.
There was spectacle in the wedding, when what must’ve been almost the whole cast was on stage, accompanied by drummers – having proceeded down from the back of the auditorium for the groom’s entrance. Also there was a point where Mrs Kapoor and Priya treat themselves to a fashion show, for inspiration. We were treated to an array of beautiful dresses, worn by the lovely dancers who brought their timing and poise to the occasion. If they don’t already then they should seriously consider being fashion models as part of their portfolio of talents.
One little warning though, the show did run almost three hours (not including the interval) and the trio of little girls in the row in front of me, who must’ve been about eight years old, did seem to get very distracted midway through the second half. But chances are that you’ll know whether your children are comfortable with that length of running time.
After the show, the cast were outside in the lobby happily posing for photos with audience members. The atmosphere was full of energy and faces covered with smiles. It certainly seemed that the mix of music, dance, and comedy had thoroughly entertained everyone. At this point of the tour there are just dates left for Leicester and Birmingham (details below), but I would recommend catching the show while you can and you may need to hurry, tickets are selling fast.
Remaining tour dates & venues:
5 May The Haymarket Theatre, Leicester – 2.30pm & 7.30pm
6 May The Haymarket Theatre, Leicester – 1.30pm & 6.30pm
27 May The Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham – 4.00pm