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Studio Theatre-Milton Theatre
Saturday, July 28, 9:15
They say: “‘Can I eat a Big Mac, and still be a Hindu?’ wondered Vijai since she was five. Caught between her Marxist father, bornagain Christian sister and superstitious Hindu mom, Vijai hilariously struggles to find the meaning of faith in America.”
Rachel’s take: Vijai Nathan is the real deal. Buy a ticket to one of her monologues and the whole crapshoot of choosing a Fringe show becomes a guaranteed return on investment, safer than government bonds.
Nathan’s expertly conceived and warmly performed (ONLY FIGURATIVELY; MILTON IS GLORIOUSLY AIR CONDITIONED) stories from her life remind you why “my family is ridiculous” and “I was such an awkward, lonely kid” are such storytelling staples: because they’re fantastic when someone does them right.
The subject is faith, which includes faith in a rational, godless universe. All around Nathan are people who are certain about how things work: her science-minded dad, her superstitious Hindu mother and sister, and her born-again Christian other sister.
Nathan feels pulled by both sides, a little envious of those who know what to believe. She makes sense of her life with equal amounts of rationality and irrationality. She takes us with her on her journey of agnosticism and ambiguity, observing madness and contradiction along the way. The family’s trips to McDonalds for hamburgers, for example, is totally okay with her devoutly Hindu mother, because her mother has justified eating sacred cow within her own odd personal logic.
The program describes this as a more challenging, deeper monologue than Nathan’s tackled before, but it’s still very funny and, for most of the show, light. It gets, er, meaningful, but by then you love her family and care about their sorrow. The piece resolves beautifully, complete like a great short story and you might even say inspirational. As long as you say it because I don’t use that word.
A proper Fringing requires some Nathan, and her foray into more serious work is exciting to watch. Sign me up for the next time she challenges herself.
See it if: You can! Only one show left!
Skip it if: You come to Fringe for the freaky stuff.