Company: RA RA WAI PRODUCTION, Vancouver, BC
Venue: 6 - Tom Hendry Theatre at the MTC Warehouse
Like the bull's heart, this show has a sweetness at its core - while not always perfect.
Veenesh Dubois' solo show begins with a description of the custard apple - also known as the bull's heart. "One would call it an ugly duckling," a voiceover intones in the darkness, "if not for the beauty inside."
So can good come of ugliness? That's the central question here. And like the bull's heart, this show has a sweetness at its core - while not always perfect.
The story follows Tanuja Shankar, a tough-as-nails senior partner in an accounting firm. The "driven career woman trying to get by in a man's world" is a fairly stock type, and so Tanuja is here. She's a dragon lady to her employees, disrespectful to family, and flips the bird to flight attendants.
Things change when her mother sends her back to India, her birth country, to visit the woman who nursed Tanuja as a baby. It's not much of a surprise that it's a transformational journey for Tanuja - though that's not to say there are no surprises before the show's end.
Dubois' writing often has a graceful poetry to it. Her performance as the vitriolic Tanuja is sometimes very funny, but inconsistent - there's a stiffness at points that suggests she's not entirely comfortable with this piece yet.
But more problematic is the journey of the character - we spend too much time getting to dislike Tanuja, and not enough seeing how India changes her. In the end, it was enough to keep me from fully connecting with the piece.
It is a show with heart - but also one that still has some rough edges.