The Space, Adelaide Festival Centre 7pm Thursday 19th October 2023.
Starting with a nightmare where the echoes answer back, what appears to be a simple, almost innocent story grows into a saga of epic proportions. Although the issues addressed are specific to a particular culture, they are also universal. This modern tale spans the gulf between life and death, and dissolves the border between dreams and reality. But this is no fabulous fable; rather it is based on the true facts of the extinction of an entire bird species.
Vultures are not sexy enough to warrant much attention, compared with practically anything else. We see them as ugly, grotesque even, and expendable when we have more pressing issues. As the garbage eaters, they are also charged with eating the flesh both from dead animals and human corpses. Hardly likely to go viral on TikTok. Nevertheless, these raptors serve here as the canaries in the coalmine. The plot unravels and gathers pace superbly, as a poor farmer struggles to make a new life in one of the biggest cities on the planet.
He brings with him fresh, innovative ideas to upset the traditions that still restrict many in society and in families, especially the females. When opening doors for others, he must sacrifice something, and maybe even sacrifice himself. Meeting someone who wishes to develop themselves gives him this opportunity, but also poses the hardest challenge of all, to give up any hope of a future, and perhaps his life as well. But when he must open a door to save himself, he finds the un-dealt with baggage from his past blocking the way forward.
Dreams weave their way through this play on both levels, with those that aspire to a better life mingling with those laced with the fear of death. It reminds us how we exist within a web of inter-related living beings, all more or less dependent on each other. Despite these deep themes, a delightful sense of humour permeates the entire piece, tipping between the sad and poignant to action sequences and very funny, tragic-comedy.
It takes exquisite timing and consummate skill to play multiple characters in conversation, and Jacob Rajan acts with masterful yet humble precision. Each of the cast played by this one actor is drawn with deft strokes and clear changes in voice intonations. The puppetry too is flawlessly incorporated to create a spell-binding illusion. The lighting and sound design perfectly complement this excellent work of theatre. The interspersed dreams increase in intensity like climate catastrophes, until we are almost wishing for the inevitable end to come as peacefully as possible.
Presented by: Indian Ink Theatre Company Performed by Jacob Rajan
Paradise continues at The Space until Saturday 21st October. Click HERE to purchase your tickets.