Hijra

This rumination on classism and homophobia feels like a Bollywood musical with no music

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Through May 7

Tickets are $20-40

861-8972

New Conservatory Theater Center, 25 Van Ness (at Market), S.F.

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It's Bombay wedding season, and Nils' mother wants him to marry a beautiful girl, but he's already fallen in love with a pretty boy. Nils plans to take his new love back to New York as his blushing bride with the help of the Hijras — transvestites with magical powers, questionable monologues, and "sacred mutilated genitalia." Hijra is good-natured fun, and NCTC gives us an affable production; the sound, lighting, and luminous costumes all do a lot with a little, and the actors seem to be enjoying themselves. However, Ash Kotak's first full-length play feels slight, like a Bollywood musical with no musical numbers. The filmic episodic structure makes for awkward transitions, especially during the rushed second act, in which the effort to wrap up loose ends creates unearned moments of revelation and resolution. Characters are forced to examine their deep-seated prejudices in novel ways, yet the playwright doesn't quite enable the audience to have the same experience. Kotak touches on issues of classism and homophobia with humor and honesty, but doesn't make any real emotional or intellectual commitment to exploring these topics with any depth. What we're left with is an amiable, curry-flavored, gay-themed soap opera.

 
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