In little more than an hour, writer/performer Jivesh (Jiv) Parasram covers more ground than a Concorde jet. With wit and candour, Jiv constructs his very own “identity play” which bounces from Indian historical commentary to racial politics in small-town Nova Scotia. But it is Jiv’s fearless approach to giving space, in all dimensions, that sets this show apart.
Beginning with a casual chat about identity plays, Take d Milk, Nah? flits between personal stories, stand-up comedy, and theories of identity, politics, and religion with a casualness that belies the depth of its analysis.
Jiv doesn’t believe in identity plays, but he also can’t seem to escape them. He is Indo-Canadian, or maybe Trinidadian-Canadian, or perhaps something else that doesn’t quite fit into any set hyphenated box. No one in his Canadian town knows what he “is,” but neither does he feel like he’s earned his place amongst his family members in Trinidad.
From cows, through fights, and into the centre of knowing “we are all Jiv,” he leads the audience to ask for and experience space as it is needed. Take d Milk, Nah? strikes the difficult path of avoiding easy answers and embracing the complexity. Identity is both about breaking boxes and creating new ones. But ultimately, it is about making space.
This is a one-person show with wings. With Anahita Dehbonehie’s set and costume design to underscore both the jokes and the thematic transitions, this show blows most others out of the water. Rebecca Vandevelde’s lighting design is inventive and creates literal magic with the titular milk.
Director Tom Arthur Davis and Assistant Director Graham Isador have created a streamlined path for Jiv’s unstoppable energy that maintains its focus while retaining the easy friendliness required for its final ask – one that I will not spoil here. Suffice to say that it is unsettlingly jarring for audiences of all stripes. A break in expectation, which creates the kind of welcome thoughtfulness that only theatre can provide.
Take d Milk, Nah? is going to be a different experience for each audience member who walks through those doors. This is its strength.
Go with friends. Explore your differences of opinion and enjoy the different experiences each of you have. Like all great theatre, it relies upon the lived experience of the individual audience members to resonate with different moments and create opportunities for connection, questions and thought.
It takes risks that play with the established rules of theatre. And it does so with warmth, wit, and grace. It is simply a great show. Don’t miss it.
Take d Milk, Nah? written and performed by Jivesh Parasram. Co-created with Tom Arthur Davis and Graham Isador. Directed by Tom Arthur Davis. A Pandemic Theatre, Rumble Theatre production presented with Diwali in BC, in association with Neworld Theatre. On stage at The Cultch’s Culture Lab until October 26. Visit thecultch.com for tickets and information.