A house is not a home without the people, just as a play is not a performance without an audience. Princeton South Asian Theatrics’ “Bombay Confidential” offers something that the tease of a TV series “Lost” could never provide: a decent explanation of the ending and an entertaining show worth thinking about.
“Bombay Confidential” is a crime thriller set in Bombay, India, that highlights the corruption gripping the city’s government officials. An original production written by Kashyap Rajagopal ’14, Tejas Sathe ’13 and Myra Gupta ’12, with contributions from other PSAT members, “Bombay Confidential” differs from PSAT’s usual routine, romantic comedy topped with culture references for a nice kick to your comedic cerebellum. This time, the group tackles a real-world issue, but despite the seriousness of the subject at hand, PSAT writers inject comedy into the performance with references to popular memes, clever use of song choice for scene changes and an unlimited reserve of humor with racial overtones. The clever references, puns and strong personalities of the actors bring life into the play even at duller moments.
The story kicks off with something of a rehash of a typical crime thriller: the protagonist opening the chamber of dark secrets. In the first few scenes, the audience may be puzzled by how the story is going to unfold or what is happening on stage without a little background information. Although the plot of the play is slow and confusing at first — sort of like that time you woke up on the Forbes golf course in a toga — it picks up as more characters are introduced and we meet our protagonist, Nitin Kulkarni, played by Varun Sharma ’15. As the play continues, the audience runs into scenes that will leave them either laughing from the comedy or confused by the sheer ridiculousness of what they just witnessed — sort of like seeing a polar bear on a tropical island.
The play opens with an introduction to Piggy Sharma, a self-infatuated general played by the talented Sanchali Pal ’12. Her personality and acting is infectious and genuine — seeing an actress embody her character so wholeheartedly is always a welcome sight. Rickshaw driver Sam, played by Nihar Madhavan ’15, is a shrewd, fast-talking haggler, so keep track of what he says or he’ll rob you of a chuckle or two. Lieutenant DeSouza, played by Pranav Badami ’15, is Piggy Sharma’s rigid second-in-command and is so cold that even Severus Snape would feel awkward in his presence — even the audience tenses up when he appears. Though the leads are strong, some of the supporting cast fall short of fully embodying their characters, instead resorting to over-acting that detracts from the authenticity of the performance.
The coziness of the Wilson Blackbox Theater provides for an intimate interaction between the audience and the performers, who are separated by only a few feet. In fact, the cast of PSAT invites audience members to some gentle cajoling — or just flat out heckling, if you please.
The show occasionally gets confusing; the audience will at times be in want of the photographic memory of Shawn Spencer to keep count of the twists. But not to worry — the writers were kind enough not to leave everything unexplained. Overall, “Bombay Confidential” is a great show that audience members as well as actors are sure to enjoy. Showgoers even have a chance to win a date with the suave Shubro Saha ’15, who plays the poised Bobby Patel.
3.5 out of 5 paws
Pros: Strong leads, strong laughs.
Cons: Weak supporting actors; confusing at the start.