Review: 'Bollywood Kitchen' a Unique Offering

by Kevin Taft
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Thursday Jan 28, 2021
 Sri Rao in the Geffen Stayhouse world premiere production of "Bollywood Kitchen.' Photo by Kyle Rosenberg.
Sri Rao in the Geffen Stayhouse world premiere production of "Bollywood Kitchen.' Photo by Kyle Rosenberg.  

With the pandemic still in full-swing, theatergoers are being offered unique theatrical experiences in lieu of in-person performances. The Geffen Playhouse in Westwood has been at the forefront of these options in Los Angeles, and their latest offering — "Bollywood Kitchen" — is unique in more ways than one.

Written and Performed by Pennsylvania-born Indian actor, writer, producer Sri Rao, "Bollywood Kitchen" takes audiences on Rao's personal journey of family, culture, cuisine, and Bollywood! During the virtual performance, His inspiration for the piece is his book of the same name, which incorporates his love of Bollywood movies with the family recipes he grew up enjoying.

In this theatrical telling, directed by Arpita Mukherjee, Rao tells stories of his growing up "this skinny brown kid living in a white world" while guiding the audience through a homemade Indian meal. When someone purchases a ticket to the show, they are sent a box of recipe cards, a shopping list for perishables, as well as loads of spices and ingredients. The directions let you know what to prepare before the show starts such as chopping veggies and chicken to making a delicious Bollywood Popcorn to snack on.

In essence, audiences don't get just a one-man show, they get a full experience that feels like you're on a platonic first date with a new friend who you're cooking a meal with. It's casual, charming, funny, and, best of all, delicious!

While there have been other live virtual performances, this one is unique because those watching became an active participant who benefit from learning how to cook an authentic meal from scratch. And with Rao's charisma and candor, he's like the best cooking partner you could have.

At a time when we are trapped at home alone or with the same person for days on end, this felt like a night out with new friends. And ended with the flavors and aromas of the colorful and tasty culture of India.

"Bollywood Kitchen" has been extended through March 6th. For more information or tickets, visit www.geffenplayhouse.org or call 310.208.2028.

Kevin Taft is a screenwriter/critic living in Los Angeles with an unnatural attachment to 'Star Wars' and the desire to be adopted by Steven Spielberg.


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