Red Betty Theatre smokes up the stage with their production of Ganga’s Ganja. From the acting to the dance, to the costumes and set, mesmerizing is great word to describe how I felt watching Ganga’s Ganja. Aparajit Bhattacharjee directs a marvellous production about a sister taking care of her older sister with MS through the use of marijuana.
Asha Vijayasingham gives an honest portrayal of the younger sibling in need of something more. As “Mena” Ronica Sajnani is absolutely excellent, although flubbing a couple lines she recovers well and by the end of the play gives a well-rounded performance. Ashima Suri is spell-binding as “Urvashi”, her dance is intricate and unique and it leaves you entranced and engaged. Tony Sciara as “Vince” provides comedic relief throughout most of the play and remains on top of his game throughout. This is a show to see!
Suggestions for next time: Purchasing herbal cigarettes would be of great use to actual be able to simulate the smoking of marijuana, it was one thing that bugged me, that the bong was never lit and no smoke was produced.
Ganga’s Ganja is truly a play that has everything: a moving story, engaging characters, impactful live music, ethereal dance, an interesting set, vibrant costuming, supportive lighting, a sense of humour and most importantly knockout performances. This story follows two sisters struggling, striving and, at times, thriving in the face of serious illness, betrayal and the undeniable weight of the road not taken.
We first encounter Ganga (Asha Vijayasingham) and Mena (Ronica Sajnani) as they live in a state of partial isolation imposed by Mena’s illness, and by the illegal nature of the only effective treatment: marijuana. This isolation is broken by the arrival of a new neighbor Vince (Tony Sciara). Later the cast is joined by the mystical Urvashi (Ashima Suri) who’s dynamic dance ranges from confrontational to comforting. Tragedy strikes when Ganga’s backyard crop of illegal medicine is stolen. Fearful of resorting to the possibly contaminated and dangerous-to-acquire street variation of their miracle drug, Ganga and Mena now face the full force of Mena’s M.S. symptoms without any defense.
Without a doubt the standout strength of this polished and professional piece is the amazing performances of all four of its actors. Vijayasingham’s portrayal of Ganga as a strong, proud and loving woman who has weathered more loss than her years deserve seems effortless. Mena’s strength, suffering and humour are masterfully expressed by Sajnani and the audience can’t help but be won over by Sciara’s dead-on performance as the abrasive, funny and ultimately genuine Vince. Last but certainly not least, Suri captivates her audience as the graceful Urvashi.
Ganga’s Ganja should be on everyone’s Fringe shortlist. Don’t miss it! It will certainly join the ranks of Fishbowl, Dianne and Me and other Fringe shows that are talked about for years to come.
There is a real hit of a show playing at the Citadel Theatre space right now. Every aspect is tight, well-polished, and professional. Buy your tickets now for Ganga’s Ganja and add it to your schedule this week.
From the moment the show starts, we see a beautifully laid out set creating the home of Mena (played with incredible dedication by Ronica Sajnani) and her sister Ganga (the elegant and professional Asha Vijayasingham) . Soon after we meet their neighbor, an almost caricature Italian, Vince (played by the scene stealing, but not in a bad way, Tony Sciara). I don’t want to go too far into the story because I wouldn’t do it justice. But sufficed to say that Mena is very ill and her sister wants nothing more than to take care of her and keep her here as long as possible.
The dedication and care taken by everyone on the production team is clear by two minutes into the show. The subject matter was clearly close to the writer’s heart, and the director has kept that in mind. With care and precision they have guided their actors on the right path, and helped them to make the choices that make this piece work. All of the acting was impressive but Tony Sciara’s performance was really a standout for me. One moment you just felt repulsed by him, five minutes later he was tugging at your heartstrings, and then another five minutes later he had you laughing.
I also can’t go without mentioning two other people. Ashima Suri plays Urvashi, which admittedly I did have to google, but I believe is referring to a nymph in Hindu language, adding even more to the performance with a wonderfully danced aspect. Finally, the musical director needs to be mentioned. We didn’t realize until the end of the show that the most of the music in the show is live being played backstage. If I had any criticisms at all, it would be to try and bring him onto stage, because Ernie Tollar’s talent deserves recognition as much as the actors.
In case you haven’t realized it yet I loved Ganga’s Ganja. Audiences are going to be talking about it so get out there and line up early. Later in the week this show should and probably will be sold out.