ACTOR and director Ravi Jain is doing what most men would never be brave enough to do – challenge his mother on stage to stop meddling in his life.
The award-winning artist is starring with his mother Asha in A Brimful of Asha at The Tricycle theatre in northwest London.
The play, which involves an informal conversation between Jain and his mum, is based on a true story about him being forced to see potential brides on a visit to India in 2007.
His parents hijacked a work trip to Kolkata that Jain had planned, to find him a wife he could return home with instead. “I was living with my parents at the time and was very angry at both of them,” he told Eastern Eye.
“It was awkward in the house. But anyone I told the story to would just laugh so hard. Everyone said I should make this into a movie. I didn’t know how to make a movie so I decided I was going to do a one-man show about this story.”
The 35-year-old, who is from Canada, told his mother about the idea for the play. “I said, ‘look mummy, I’m going to make a play. I’ve created a character of you and I’m going to tell the world what a bad mother you are’.
“She told me, ‘If I was to tell my side of the story, people in the audience would see that you are a terrible son and I’m the victim’. “So that’s when I said, ‘let’s put our money where our mouth is.’ We just started making the show and it really came from our conversations.”
The play was first performed in January 2012 and the mother and son duo have since been on tour across Canada and the United States.
“We have a script but there is a lot of improvisation in it. The best thing we do is try to keep on each other’s good sides. It’s an informal conversation [of a man] with his mother in front of an audience who are like guests at their house.”
Jain, who runs his own theatre company named Why Not Theatre, trained at the London Academy for Music and Dramatic Arts.
He was recently awarded the 2012 Pauline McGibbon Award and was the artistic director-in-residence at the Theatre Centre, Toronto, in 2013. He said it was “great” being with his mum on stage, who has no acting experience, after she was doubtful of his career early on.
“Theatre was something my parents never wanted me to do. I think it’s so great that she’s gotten on board and really sees the value and my passion for it – that I’m not just kind of playing around with my friends and it’s really a job.”
He added: “It’s really nice to see people falling in love with her every night and it is so refreshing to see my mother through other people’s eyes.”
Jain said the decision to put his mother – a 62-year-old Indian immigrant to Canada – on stage and have her voice and opinions represented was “really important”.
“I could have written her lines and I could have done a one-man show and perform her character. But nothing is more authentic than her own voice and experience.
“In Canada, that was what people really responded to. They actually got to hear it from her and it’s super important for me to create opportunity for authentic stories.
“It’s an Indian story, but immigrants from all backgrounds – Jewish people, Italians, Greek people, all share their exact same stories with me and say, ‘your mum is my mum’.”
A Brimful of Asha runs until Saturday (19). For more information, go to www.tricycle.co.uk