Mixed Blood Theater’s Shiv: A Captivating Story

Elise Sommers, Editor in Chief

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Mixed Blood has long been known as promoters of new theater, edgy theater, and theater that explores underrepresented areas. Their newest trilogy of plays, Displaced Hindu Gods, continues this tradition of people-centered, storytelling shows.

The trilogy of plays by Aditi Brennan Kapil, the Playwright-in-Residence at Mixed Blood, tells three different, but interconnected stories of Hindu gods in today’s Western world. Each installment is directed by a different artist, and invokes a different style: one stand up comedy, one thriller, and one blend of fantasy and reality. Brennan Kapil stated she wrote the shows to “further our conversation as people, because that’s what I feel my role is in our ever-evolving, ever-expanding, never-static society.”

On October 3rd, I went to see the last show in the sequence, Shiv, directed by Risa Brainin. The mystical play, named after its protagonist, wove together a tale about immigration, imagination, and what gets lost in translation while balancing the new and old.

From the moment I entered the theater, I was struck by the intriguing simplicity of the set. Three angular archways held waving sheets in place. The airy fabric was anchored by a curled up mattress, and a rope that stretched from above the audience to the far arch. The set was a gorgeous manifestation of the show itself, fluttering off into fantasy, but rooted in the reality of Shiv’s (Lipica Shah) anger and experience as an Indian American.

Poetry bound all aspects of the show together. Shiv’s imagination was the only constant in her journey to reconnect with her father. This poetry sailed Shiv and the audience away into a deeper understanding of herself. There is a misconception that the writing in theater has to be plainer, so the actors can realistically speak it. But the script of this show proved that wrong, with its delicate imagery that spun between real life and imagination.

And as powerful as the words spoken were, the words left unspoken had just as much intensity. The small, but dynamic, cast built tension that kept the viewer on the edge of their seat. I would have appreciated more conclusion to this conflict, the ending left me feeling like the emphasis was placed on the father, when it was really Shiv’s story.

Shiv, as part of the Displaced Hindu Gods made me want to go back for the others. The art of the storytelling present in the show captivated me, sailing through experiences with abandonment and change, escape and imagination. Any viewer ready to translate their experiences with reading Allende-esque magical realism onto the stage should write this show on their calendar.

Displaced Hindu Gods will be showing October 5-27, at Mixed Blood Theater. For more information, or to reserve tickets, go to www.mixedblood.com.