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Whose Sari Now? review at Theatre Royal Stratford East – ‘fascinating and funny’

Rani Moorthy in Whose Sari Now?. Photo: Scott Rylander
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Following a brief UK tour, writer and performer Rani Moorthy brings her one-woman show, Whose Sari Now? to Theatre Royal Stratford East. Through a series of monologues, Moorthy dissects the mythology of the sari, creating five characters and exploring their relationship with the traditional garment. The characters include an older Asian woman, resilient to the pressure of Western influences who wears her sari as a second skin, a young mother giving birth in a war zone who wraps her twins in a sari, and a transgender man contemplating his girlfriend’s obsession with the sari.

Written as the first instalment of a projected trilogy, the piece uses the sari  as a metaphor as much as piece of clothing. A thin strip of silk, it is wrapped precariously around the body, vulnerable and alluring it is worn from coming-of-age to cremation. Moorthy’s writing takes the shape of a series of simple but evocative stories exploring women’s roles in a male dominated society. Subtle direction from Kimberley Sykes ensures that the five monologues flow smoothly together but the major strength here is the warmth of Moorthy’s performance.

Despite the simple setting, the audio-visual elements work well, incorporating cascading images of the sari in all its forms plus a mix of contemporary and classical Indian music. There are even subtitles as Moorthy plucks an unsuspecting audience member to wear a sari, while highlighting how the idea of caste and conditioning is still a major part of south Asian society.

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Verdict
Fascinating and funny metaphorical take on women's roles in south Asian culture
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