Lila: The Love Story of Radha and Krishna
Jul 25th 4:15 pm
They say: Attraction, flirtation, jealousy, passion. Follow the human Radha and the god Krishna as they bask in the joy and burn in the heat of their love. The emotional quality of their story is captured beautifully through Odissi Indian classical dance.
Llewellyn’s take: It was pouring rain outside the Apothecary. People shuffled in, soaked from head to toe, sopping wet playbills in hand. A veritable waterfall cascaded from the ceiling in the back of the house. The stage manager quipped that they were just trying to set the ambiance by making it more monsoon-like. She may have been joking, but the drenched, humid conditions were perfect for what was a beautiful, intricate, and all-around amazing performance. I can’t imagine a better way to wait out a monsoon then to watch the graceful interplay of these gorgeous women; the slow, delicate contortions alternating with the staccato raga stepwork. Shalini Goel Agarwal’s flirtatious, mesmerizing gaze itself is reason enough to see this show. The captivating beauty in their dress and expressive personalities had me wishing for an even plusher production—-what if there were more dancers, more tapestries, real waterfalls, and a live tabla-sitar orchestra?
Some may be scared off by the prospect of classical, interpretive Indian dance. American interpretive dance can be confusing enough by itself. Maybe you think that the cultural barrier could only serve to alienate the audience; instead, the infectious pageantry won’t fail to enchant. I’m not sure I completely understood the meaning even when outlined by the narrator (I think the plot was something akin to Shaggy’s “It Wasn’t Me”), but it didn’t really matter. You know that it’s a dance of jealousy and passion: Radha complains to Vishnu, Vishnu appeals to Radha, they embrace, they fight, they get back together, and it repeats. Somewhere in there, a flute gets played. Sure, you might miss some details in this love battle of the gods while transfixed by the polyrhythmic undulations of the dance. There are shows swimming in meaning and importance, but this one is swimming in beauty and technical skill.
See it if: You like nice things.
Skip it if: You still can’t forgive Vishnu for how he treated Shiva.