FOR BETTER OR WORSE
DIRECTOR: Koobeshen Naidoo
CAST: Kumseela Naidoo, Verushka Odayen and Madhu Maharaj
VENUE: The Catalina Theatre
UNTIL: May 18
RATING: 3 stars (out of 5)
POPULAR comedian/actor Koobeshen Naidoo’s first full-length drama, which he wrote and directed, opened at the weekend.
For Better or Worse is a drama-comedy which Naidoo scripted partly to pay homage to three influential women in his life (his wife, Kunseela Naidoo; his mother and mother-in-law), but the play also pays respect to and honours Indian women over the generations and their contributions to their families and community.
For Better or Worse takes a look at the lives of three generations of Indian women through three sisters-in-law, married to three brothers.
The first wife (played by Kumseela Naidoo) is the elder of the three, an educated woman who chose to be a stay-at-home wife and mother for the better of her family.
The second wife (Madhu Maharaj) is a successful businesswoman who is highly respected and perhaps even feared in the workplace, but at home she finds she is under her husband’s thumb.
And the third wife (Verushka Odayen) represents the more modern working woman who will not accept that a woman must be submissive to her husband.
The trio’s husbands go on a fishing trip and they have to spend the weekend together. What unfolds after a series of pleasantries sees a number secrets come out of the closet and tensions among the women and in this family revealed. Within the scenario the audience gets to learn more about each of these women and their respective marriages and family life… which are also very much true-to-life scenarios.
The topic and content of the play is very different from what audiences know of Koobeshen’s writing and comical observations.
Known more for his oddball and sexist commentary on women, in this work Koobeshen proves himself to be an artist of varied talents.
The audience gets some insight into his more reflective side as the script is one that dissects the mentioned three generations of Indian women and their different contributions to family and community.
Through the characters’ dialogue you learn that sometimes women are overlooked and that it doesn’t matter what their position is in life – housewife, business leader, worker – they each have their own unique contributions that are valuable.
We also learn a different side of Koobeshen in terms of his theatrical creativity.
For Better or Worse is showcased through a mix of drama with a dash of comedy, poetry and traditional Indian dance – all of which are woven together to present this tapestry piece on who women are.
Although focused on Indian women, I found the content to be very universal in its theme insofar as it exposes the sacrifices and contributions that women make through the different generations and as times change.
The three actresses get under the skin of their characters and perform very well. The traditional Indian dance links (choreographed by Sivani Chinappan, and performed by Chinappan and Logesan Moodley) are performed gracefully. I’m not a traditional Indian dance fundi, but I enjoyed the way the pieces have been created. They seemed to complement or continue the storyline which was great.
A great watch, particularly with Mother’s Day around the corner.