arts
Review: The Deranged Marriage

Smash-hit theatre production is revisited in commemoration of its 10th anniversary

Posted: 07.05.15

Arranged marriages have always had a longstanding association with Asian culture, which is why Rifco decided to revive the original screenplay from ten years ago. Chief Executive and Artistic Director of Rifco Pravesh Kumar, divulged that although arranged marriages still take place today, times have indeed changed and that is what The Deranged Marriage reflects. To fully grasp and understand these changes, Pravesh discussed the topic with South Asian community groups, in order to incorporate real issues that are affecting British Asians.

But not to get too seriously enraptured with the concept - The Deranged Marriage is anything but downbeat! Pravesh has managed to make a decade-old play current, relevant and hilarious even today, brought to life with the help of strong characters and great acting. Afterall, we all know people in similar scenarios like the medic turned DJ who hasn’t revealed the truth to his family, the couple who had a child out of wedlock but kept it hidden for as long as they could, and the gay guy whose mother forces him to marry a woman. Although The Deranged Marriage isn’t an arranged-marriage-bashing play, it does ridicule the hypocrisy within the community. Whilst many have progressively moved on from pre-historic mentalities and fates, there are still remnants of duty, responsibility and honour which are explored within the storyline, where deep-rooted secrets are kept to save the family honour, whilst burying one’s own happiness by adhering to the old school notion, in the words of Chaka Khan – what’s love got to do with it? Well nowadays, love definitely plays a bigger role before getting married, which is why arranged marriages prove difficult.


 

The audience is invited along the journey of Sona and Rishi’s haphazard wedding fiasco, right from the moment the two are betrothed to eachother by their families. Although they just go along with it, both experience pre-wedding jitters, with uncertain bride Sona, played flawlessly by Clara Indrani, who gets senselessly drunk on the big day. Aaron Virdee gave a credible performance as Rishi, the mummy’s boy who is completed manipulated by mother dearest. The essence of a big fat Asian wedding has been captured so well, you can’t help but feel like you’re really in attendance of a wedding – only this time you get to see all the scandalous juicy bits that happen behind the scenes. The fun elements of Asian weddings are all flamboyantly recreated making you get into shaadi mode, thanks to the lavish décor by Libby Watson, the traditional song and dance, the rituals and the stunning costumes designed by Andy Kumar, who also choreographed the thumka-inducing routines.


 

No wedding is complete without its drama, usually triggered by melodramatic personalities. In this case, the roles of Sona’s aunt, the formidable, regimented Lata played by Balvinder Sopal and Rishi’s forceful, emotionally blackmailing, dowry-greedy mother Pramila, acted by Rekha John-Cheriyan delivered outstanding performances of dominating characters recognisable at every Asian wedding. And who can forget the prevalence of a cousin/sister type who is desperate to get married and thinks every man wants to marry her?! Sheena Patel did a fantastically convincing job playing this role in the form of Kiran, and her embarrassingly enthusiastic dance performance was definitely a laugh out loud moment, resonating so many unfortunate, tragically similar scenes at previous mehndi’s I have witnessed!


 

The production also acts as a vibrant celebration of Indian culture, whilst demonstrating how an extravagant wedding can sometimes act as a façade, masking common underlying controversies- hence The Deranged Marriage scenario. Without giving too much away, every catastrophe the couple and their families faced, I have witnessed a much less comedic version in reality. Honour, duty, saving face in the community, what the neighbours will think, can all still take precedence over a sincerely happy and health marriage, even in today’s day and age. The beauty of this spectacle is that it revolves around a traditional relatable idea, but in a light hearted manner, so that we can laugh at moments that are all too familiar to us. Whilst every member of the audience is chuckling along, it’s because we all know that beneath the surface, most marriages have deranged tendencies at some point!

The Deranged Marriage will be touring the UK on the following dates:
Watford Palace Theatre – Previews 25 & 27 April, 28 April to 2 May
West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds – 6 to 10 May
Theatre Royal Windsor – 11 to 16 May
The Woodville, Gravesend – 21 & 22 May
Warwick Arts Centre, Coventry – 2 to 6 June
Oxford Playhouse – 10 to 13 June

For tickets and more info visit: www.rifcoarts.com

Fariha Sabir
 

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