Indian Ink: In brief
Theater treasure Rosemary Harris returns to the stage to star in the New York premiere of a 1995 play by the exceedingly intelligent Tom Stoppard (whose The Real Thing is being revived on Broadway this season). The plot travels between two continents, 50 years apart, to examine a young Englishwoman's affair with an Indian artist. Carey Perloff directs a company that also includes Romola Garai, Neil Huff and Firdous Bamji.
Indian Ink: Theater review by Helen Shaw
In 1930, poet Flora Crewe (Garai) comes to India; there, Nirad Das (a splendid Bamji) paints her. In the ’80s, her sister, Eleanor (exquisite Harris), fields requests from a scholar (Neal Huff) who wants details and Das’s son (Bhavesh Patel), who wants the painting. Tom Stoppard’s Indian Ink (1995) followed immediately on his masterpiece Arcadia, which used the same narrative strategies to better effect, shadowing this lesser work. Even dimmed, though, Stoppard delights. The show’s oft-mentioned Rajasthani miniatures appeal to us in a similar way—namely through the sensuous thrill of multiplying detail.
Indeed, the small things are great in Carey Perloff’s uneven production. Props impress us, while Neil Patel’s set (a gloppy blue wall) looks awful; secondary characters (look for Nick Choksi) out-act both of poor Eleanor’s interlocutors. Most seriously, though, the ever-present Garai shouts every sentence. Her flat affect and lack of control land the whole delicate project right in the mulligatawny. She’s a muse managing to blur her own portrait.—Theater review by Helen Shaw
THE BOTTOM LINE Uneven acting muddles a tricky play.