Carefully crafted, charismatic, engaging and emotional, Anita Majumdar’s Boys With Cars and Let Me Borrow That Top are captivating.
The pair of plays, now showing as part of the Belfry Theatre’s SPARK Fest (along with the first part of the trilogy, Fish Eyes, on March 15) stand on their own as the story of Naz, a classically trained Indian dancer who suffers the ugly tangles of high school life in Port Moody, BC.
Majumdar, an award-winning actress, playwright and dancer wrote and choreographed the plays as solo pieces and performs them as an ensemble cast, spinning from one character to the next with the flick of her supple wrists.
Backed by Bollywood tunes and classical Indian music, along with Chris Brown and Destiny’s Child, Majumdar’s Naz weaves the story of her dream to attend UBC and her romance with her high school sweetheart Lucky Punjabi, owner of a red Mini Cooper and inventor of the Bhangra burpee, who puts on a working class British accent and dreams of becoming a Bhangra pop singing sensation.
When Lucky goes out of town to audition for Bhangra Idol, his best friend Buddy makes a move on Naz, but before she can tell Lucky, Buddy tells him that Naz made a move on him. A devastated Lucky breaks up with Naz and leaves Port Moody.
The “cools” then turn on Naz for her treatment of Lucky in a horrible way.
Kicked out of school and subsequently home, Naz moves in with Gustakhi, an older South-Asian woman with a blunt outlook on life and the pair run a business where Naz performs dances from the film Slumdog Millionaire for Caucasian wedding receptions.
Majumdar deftly conveys each character with honesty and insight into how decisions based on cultural traditions impact the lives of those involved.
Boys with Cars brashly tackles the angst and frustrations of a teenaged girl trapped geographically and emotionally and strikes a chord with anyone who survived young adulthood.
Fifteen minutes and a set change later, Majumdar takes the stage again, this time as Candice, the white girl who makes life hell for Naz in high school, in Let Me Borrow That Top.
Rather than hit the stage in full costume and make up, Majumdar sits at a vanity, her reflection projected behind her. The audience watches as she puts blue contact lenses over her brown eyes, dons a blonde wig and begins to talk to her computer as Candice posts a video blog.
Describing her make up ritual, Majumdar begins to paint her skin with cover up, concealer and powder. A slight valley girl accent gears up as Majumdar transforms physically into Candice, the mean girl who reveals her crush on Naz’ boyfriend Lucky and her attempts to woo him through Indian dance.
Candice emerges equally flawed as Naz, with her own set of confused family dynamics and longing for acceptance.
Top takes a more humorous look at teenage life than Boys With Cars, there is a lighter mood and more silly moments, especially as Candice layers on the eyeliner and pontificates on culture as she sees it.
Anita Majumdar biography – Playwright, Choreographer, Performer
An award-winning actress, playwright and dancer who has been profiled in magazines such as Vogue India, and Fashion. Anita attended the prestigious National Theatre School of Canada after moving from her native Port Moody, BC. A Dora Mavor Moore Award-nominated choreographer, Anita trained in Kathak and other forms of dance for over 15 years. Having debuted in the film Murder Unveiled, for which she was awarded Best Actress at the Asian Festival of First Films, Anita went on to other roles in television projects such as the CBC’s Diverted, Republic of Doyle, and Gavin Crawford’s Wild Wild West. She is a noted theatre actress who has graced the stages of the Stratford Shakespeare Festival and other theatres across Canada. She was the only featured Canadian actress in Deepa Mehta’s film adaptation of Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2012 and has since been seen worldwide. As a playwright, Anita was recently awarded the 2013 Governor General’s Protege Prize in playwriting under the mentorship ofJohn Murrell, with the support of the National Arts Centre and the Banff Centre for the Arts. Same Same But Different, a Bollywood-inspired musical written, choreographed and performed by Anita, premiered in early 2014 at Theatre Passe Muraille in Toronto and Alberta Theatre Projects in Calgary. Anita also appeared as a judge on the OMNI/CityTV program Bollywood Star, a 2013 reality competition searching for Bollywood talent across Canada.