Kalyani Nagarajan in Mrs. Krishnan’s Party. Photo: Nimmy Santhosh and Indian Ink Theatre Company

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Mrs. Krishnan’s Party

By Jacob Rajan and Justin Lewis
Directed by Justin Lewis

A review by Kate Barry

Entire contents are copyright © 2023 by Kate Barry. All rights reserved.

When a young student enthralled by Indian culture throws a celebration, he invites everyone he knows. Described as “a combination of Christmas, Easter, and Coachella,” the student wants to throw the biggest Onam party of the year. Just one slight problem, the not-so-close family friend with whom he lives does not know about this party, nor is she keen on the festivities. Mrs. Krishnan’s Party comes to Actors Theater of Louisville courtesy of Indian Ink Theater Company. Fully immersive and interactive, the production is a feast for the senses and a fun fable of community as an unlikely pair creates their traditions.

Justin Rogers and Kalyani Nagarajan are a mighty duo as James and Mrs. Krishnan. They are a tight-knit force with impeccable timing and improvisational skills that fit well within the script’s light-hearted banter. Both actors extend trust to their audience to ensure a rapport for some audience participation throughout. As James reveals a secret he has been holding from Mrs. Krishnan, Rogers and Nagarajan face conflict with ease while recovering their relationship with enough forgiveness to tighten their bond.

Separately, Rogers and Nagarajan are equally charismatic and handle solo stage time flawlessly. Dressed as a Hindu God with boundless energy to match, Rogers plays James with high octane as he is determined to make this the best Onam ever. Rogers holds on steady to James’ curiosity about the Indian culture as an outsider. A student fascinated by access to a world he finds beautiful without risk of appropriation. At times, he uses it as an escape to cope with reality and failure. 

It’s Kalyana Nagarajan as Mrs. Krishnan who is the real star though. A hardworking store owner in a new land, Nagarajan’s Krishnan has no time for fun and suffers no fools. She brings a rigid, bluntness with each inconvenience but is not afraid to show you how to make flavors brighter in her kitchen. Yet underneath the exterior is a mourning widow who only wishes for her son to come home. In overcoming Krishnan’s sadness, Nagarajan’s performance reaches an emotional peak as the title character embraces the Onam celebration.

To dive deep into this play would only spoil the engaging audience interaction. I can only provide a few hints and subtle suggestions. Prepare yourself for selfies. If you are feeling shy, request a “wallflower” seat and leave the “cheeky” and “table” cards to the outgoing patrons. Cooking and food are major plot points in this play as well. The Victor Jory Theater is consumed by delicious smells by the end of the show with an opportunity to try the cuisine after the final curtain as well. If Mrs. Krishnan’s Party truly is the best party of the year, you won’t want to miss it.

Mrs. Krishnan’s Party

December 6 – 17, 2023

Presented by the Indian Ink Theater Company
Actors Theater of Louisville
316 West Main Street
Louisville, KY 40202

Kate Barry has worked with many different companies around town since graduating in 08 from Bellarmine University. She’s worked with CenterStage, Kentucky Shakespeare Festival, Bunbury Theater, Louisville Repertory Company, Walden Theater, Finnigan Productions. She used to work in the box office at that little performing arts center on Main Street but now she helps save the planet. In 2012, her short play “PlayList” won festival favorite in the Finnigan Festival of Funky Fresh Fun. Her play “Catcher Released” won an honorable mention with the Kentucky Playwrites Workshop. She has written for LEO Weekly and TheatreLouisville.com as well. When she is not writing, she teaches yoga. Thanks for reading!