Guest reviewer: Hugh Simpson
Hindu Times – the latest audio offering from the Lyceum and Pitlochry Festival Theatre’s Sound Stage – is a wildly original piece. Although cumbersome at times, it has a raucous energy that is frequently arresting.
Jaimini Jethwa’s script can hardly be faulted for freshness – the Hindu deities Vishnu and Brahma (or their Dundonian wide-boy avatars Vince and Barry) are in search of the goddess Lakshmi, who has also gone undercover deep on Tayside.
With the trio fetching up in a badly-stocked Spar after hours, the prospect of the deities transformed into Dundonian minks and widos, indulging in the ‘banter’ that the (surely Oasis-influenced) title hints at – and all the effing and blinding that entails – does take some getting used to. Undoubtedly there will be some who affect to be offended by it, but they will almost certainly not bother to listen to it first.
The end result is actually a sweetly philosophical piece in many ways, with ruminations on the nature of love and self hidden among the whities and minters. The dialogue does admittedly tend towards the ripe, but the local references never obscure the story.
There is an almost recklessly bold ambition to Jethwa’s script, whether it is in the attempt to convey the divine in earthly terms or the conviction that Dundee is the best place to do that. If the home of the peh can be heavenly, of course, then pretty much anywhere can be, and it very nearly succeeds.
The excellent Rehanna MacDonald gives Lakshmi tremendous energy, with Adam McNamara (Vince) and Daniel Portman (Barry) combining the earthy and high-flown with real skill.
Caitlin Skinner’s direction, the sound design of Jon Nicholls and Niroshini Thambar and Nik Paget-Tomlinson’s music give the piece shape and cohesion.
However, once the original concept has been established, some of what happens verges on footling about. Perhaps the determination to make this a ‘proper’ Lyceum/Pitlochry production means that it has to go past the hour mark, but this seems like a perfect 45-minute play with 25 minutes of padding.
The drive of the performances and production means that it never threatens to fall apart conclusively, but there is a definite air of the unwieldy, not to say baggy, at some points.
As always, however, failing to deliver on an excess of ambition is a fault that can easily be forgiven, and there is a great deal here to applaud.
Running time 1 hour 27 minutes (including one interval)
Royal Lyceum/ Pitlochry Festival Theatre online
Friday 28 – Saturday 30 May 2021.
Evenings Fri/Sat: 7.30 pm; Sun matinee: 4.30 pm. (Virtual bar opens 30mins before start time).
Information and tickets:
Via the Lyceum: https://lyceum.org.uk
Via PFT: www.pitlochryfestivaltheatre.com