A friend of mine sent me this article she wrote, on a current play in Houston. Because I know she has such a KEEN eye on the Arts, I feel more than obliged to share this with you…
Feel free to download a PDF of this article here: Outsourced or Outsmarted? by E. Swim
Outsourced or Outsmarted? Shunya Theatre Asks the Question with 1-888-DIAL-INDIA
by Elisabeth Swim
Houston’s South Asian American Shunya Theatre Company has taken on a hot topic with its new play 1-888-DIAL-INDIA (Barnevelder Movement Arts, February 11–13). This plucky Outsourced send-up entertains with hilarious culture clashes and sardonic stereotypes, while raising an important ethical dilemma. The play follows call-center mogul Arun Gupta, who takes outsourcing to the furthest extreme in a ruthless attempt to become the next Google.
AbhiRoy Cheema leads the strong and well-rounded cast as power-hungry Gupta. Prateek Karkal plays the eager Ramesh, a new hire whose inflated call-center salary will finance his sister’s Internet-arranged marriage. Karkal’s dramatic versatility makes him equally convincing as an obsequious tea server during the prologue.
Jesal Kapasi is charming as the naïve but clever Reshmi, whose traditional morals are slowly “modernized” by her lecherous boss. Yaksha Bhatt lends subtle charm to Reshmi’s traditional mother Uma, whose curiosity about her daughter’s new ways gives rise to a spicy plot twist.
With set designer Kanchan Phalak, director Sriram Vengalathur has created a comfortable world onstage that morphs easily from Mumbai to New York. A Bollywood-infused soundtrack adds both irony and levity to this poignant commentary on today’s shrinking global business world. This bilingual work is performed in both Hindi and English, though a glossary on the back page of the program makes it possible for everyone to appreciate the play’s cultural nuances.
1-888-DIAL-INDIA by Anuvabh Pal is Shunya’s eleventh production. The South Asian American theater company takes its name from the Sanskrit word for “emptiness” or “nothing,” alluding both to the spiritual goal of realizing oneself, and to the “empty space” that precludes any theatrical creation. The company’s upcoming productions include a dramatic spoof on Shakespeare in April, and a youth musical inspired by Hindu mythology.
1-888-DIAL-INDIA plays Friday February 11 and Saturday February 12 at 8 p.m. and Sunday February 13 at 3 p.m. at Barnevelder Movement Arts at 2201 Preston Street.
Tickets at www.ShunyaTheatre.org.