Para-active, Al’Daakan dancing at the feet of Kali

Review in Issue 13-3 | Autumn 2001

Para-active’s Al’Daakan is a confusing manifestation of physical theatre, traditional Asian movement and myth about one girl’s quest for revenge on the jealous demon that possessed her once beautiful great-aunt. We are introduced to friends Vasya and Zenobia at loggerheads over the latter’s nightmares about her aunt’s encounter with the demon, subsequently tormenting Vasya who can no longer take disturbed sleep and the effects of Zenobia’s delirium. Unable to understand the dream and exasperated by Zenobia’s problem, Vasya suggests they visit the ‘Sleep Doctor’. As a result, Zenobia discovers the dream’s long-forgotten and sinister core.

Told in a combination of English and Gujerati, Bharatanatyam and physical theatre, the company competently relate Zenobia’s experiences in the show’s first half. Translation is used to commentate effectively, and there are some obvious attempts at audience interaction. However, a brimming second half, with incidental percussion making interesting use of a mostly underused set, does little to rescue a narrative that becomes difficult to grasp in the complex integration of performance styles.

There are some strong performances, in particular from Persis Jade Maravala, who plays both female and male characters with wit and eloquence. However, this isn’t enough to bring clarity to this piece, which in aiming for accessibility to both Asian and Western audiences snags the fable in its multiple stylistic threads.

Presenting Artists
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. Jul 2001

This article in the magazine

Issue 13-3
p. 25