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Nigel Planer's The Game of Love and Chai at Tara Theatre and on tour

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

ACTOR, comedian, novelist and playwright Nigel Planer (The Young Ones, Filthy Rich & Catflap) is teaming up with Tara Arts’ artistic director Jatinder Verma in The Game of Love and Chai.

A brand-new adaptation of Marivaux’s classic French farce, it runs at Tara Theatre from March 1 to March 24, 2018, before touring to The Lowry, Queen’s Theatre, Hornchurch, Belgrade Theatre, Coventry and West Yorkshire Playhouse.

Transporting the story of a betrothal in 1730s France to twenty-first century England, The Game of Love and Chai centers around a marriage between two modern day Asian families combining familiar French farce with contemporary comedy and Bollywood song and dance.

Kamala wants her daughter Rani to marry successful but emotionally awkward businessman Raj. Rani bristles at going down the conventional route and arranges a test for Raj. She convinces her cousin Sita to swap places and pretend to be the suitable bride – unaware that Raj has come up with the same scheme with his driver, Nitin!

Nigel Planer said: “I’ve been hooked on Indian cinema since 1973. I love its range, its daring and its ridiculous sense of fun. So when I came across Marivaux’s play – a mistaken identity comedy about the foolish things we do when we fall in love – the connection seemed obvious. With Marivaux, as with so-called ‘Bollywood’, the main thing is to completely abandon oneself and let foolishness and love take over.”

Jatinder Verma said: “Nigel Planer’s version of Marivaux’s classic farce brings to the fore my abiding interest in connecting the worlds of East and West – connections that have enriched the theatrical cultures of both halves of the planet. Nigel’s new play brilliantly re-imagines Marivaux for today’s multicultural audiences, bringing a touch of India to this comic clash of passion and class.”

Nigel Planer is best known for his role as Neil in the BBC comedy The Young Ones. He is a founding member of The London Comedy Store and the Comic Strip group, and has written comedy books, novels, plays and scripts. He has worked extensively in theatre, film and television as an actor with stage credits including original London casts of Evita, We Will Rock You, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Chicago, which returns to London this year.

Director and artistic director of Tara Theatre Jatinder Verma was awarded an MBE for services to diversity in the arts in 2017. He is one of the co-founders of Tara, and was the first Asian or Black to direct at the National Theatre, with his own adaptation of Moliere’s Tartuffe. His previous productions include A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Black Album at the National Theatre and Macbeth, the first tour for Black Theatre Live.

Marivaux, along with Goldsmith and Sheridan, was one of the first Western playwrights to be produced in India in the late-18th century. This new production forms part of Tara Arts Binglish project, exploring the theatrical connections between India and the West, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The cast of The Game of Love and Chai includes Ronny Jhutti, Kiren Jogi, Deven Modha, Goldy Notay, Adam Samuel-Bal and Sharon Singh.

Directed by Jatinder Verma and adapted by Nigel Planer, the production is designed by Claudia Meyer.

The Game of Love and Chai is suitable for ages 12+.

Tickets (for Tara Theatre): £15.50 – available from the box office on 020 8333 4457 or online at www.tara-arts.com/.

Times: 7.30pm, 2.30pm on Saturday, March 24.

Running Time: 2 hours including interval.