The Arts

Stratford Festival 2009 – Sunil Kuruvilla’s Rice Boy

Stratford Festival 2009 – Sunil Kuruvilla’s Rice Boy featured image

reviewed by Paula Citron
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Rice Boy
Stratford Festival
Written by Sunil Kuruvilla
Directed by Guillermo Verdecchia
Starring Araya Mengesha, Anita Majumdar, Raoul Bhaneja, Sanjay Talwar, Deena Aziz, Asha Vijayasigham, Sam Moses, Anand Rajaram and Jonathan Purdon
At Stratford’s Studio Theatre until Oct. 3

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A play can be dramaturged and workshopped to death. Take Sunil Kuruvilla’s Rice Boy. In 2003, the CanStage production was a profoundly moving experience, while the 2009 Stratford production barely makes it on the emotional radar. Perhaps the plot has become more symbolic, so to speak, but the raw energy has been excised out of the now more cryptic script.

Tommy is a young boy caught between two cultures. We see him and his father both at home in Canada and on a visit to India. The other key character is his crippled cousin Tina who lives with the extended Indian family. The two of them are left to their own devices in a house filled with troubled adults.

The acting is excellent all round, particularly Araya Mengesha as Tommy and Anita Majumdar as Tina, and Guillermo Verdecchia has directed with sensitivity. Too bad he didn’t have more to work with.

Rice Boy continues at Stratford’s Studio Theatre until Oct. 3.

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