Presented by Abhishek Thapar and Adelaide Festival Centre
Reviewed 2nd November 2019
The Australian premiere of Abhishek Thapar’s My Home At The Intersection was an insightful and compelling inclusion for the 2019 OzAsia Festival.
Guests were welcomed to the performance in the lobby of the Dunstan Playhouse where Thapar began the storytelling with a personal recollection of the rediscovery of his grandfather’s lemon pickle. The single jar thought lost for 27 years acted as a prop to retrieve memories of the personal experiences alongside the underlying social movements that caused dramatic change at the time.
The story continued with a physical journey where the guests were guided down into the Rehearsal Room underneath the main theatre. The entire floor was layered with grains and two sets of projectors, one on a small screen and the other on the wall, and a close arrangement of cushions and seats. The low lighting, along with this layout, produced a great sense of intimacy and engagement to the production.
Once seated in the cosy space the full story began. Guests were told Thapar’s personal stories of growing up, initially in the Punjab region of India, and with a family that shared and discussed many ideas with input from everyone even in the event of a primary school drama production. In the backdrop, the Khalistan separatist movement haunted their lives, impacting their ability to continue making life decisions, such as when to build their home.
The grains on the floor acted as a map, creating an additional layer of information and providing a captivating display that allowed knowledge of space and movement within a foreign land. The mix of multimedia and simple props were cleverly included as footnotes to the potentially overwhelming details regarding the actors in the separatist movements.
The play closed by returning back to the familiar: a mediation around the jar of lemon pickles, with the final truths of the family introduced as a lingering reminder of what can be remembered and what traumas people deliberately forget.
There was a wonderful use of simple movements, down to even the background framed photos, built around the overall storytelling. The theatre production was well crafted for movement between the personal and the political. There was a sense of a longing for truth to be shared but combined with the fear of what can be found within this knowledge.
There was an overall strong performance and connection with the audience. A few lapse moments did interrupt the general flow of the story but the story itself was a carefully constructed piece. The horrors of conflict and gaps in memories were presented in an approachable manner. The simple pauses in dialogue and even the use of a single grain carried an astonishing weight in the production.
Thapar’s work was penetrating and produced an astonishing amount of knowledge in a succinct and beautiful form.
Reviewed by Alex Dunkin
Rating out of 5: 4 Intimate Storytelling
Venue: Rehearsal Room, Adelaide Festival Centre
Season: 2-3 November 2019
Duration: 1 hour
Tickets: $30.00 – $45.00