Stories of a Dish

Streamed through Toronto Fringe Next Stage Theatre Festival

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Joe Szekeres

Another surprise here too that I wasn’t expecting

All this talk about food in playwright/actor Himanshu Sitlani’s ‘Stories of a Dish’ certainly made me long to return to the city to be in restaurants once again for dining, whether it be fine, local, or yes even fast food sometimes can be enjoyable.

Sitlani tells us that his show is meant to be performed live as he would have invited an audience member up at the beginning of the show to help prepare the dish. At the conclusion, once the dish is made, he would have invited members of the audience up to have a taste; however, since are in Covid now this filmed presentation will have to do. I think I might just try the recipe he shows us at the end of his work.

‘Stories’ follows Sitlani’s journey on how he has coped during the pandemic and being on his own. Through several anecdotes, he begins to speak about some of the humourous times in how he has had to cope in “cooking”, so he doesn’t starve. Please notice that I placed quotation marks around cooking because I don’t want to spoil the joke Sitlani shares with us at the top of the show.

Some of the stories he shares with us lead us into understanding who Sitlani is and a bit about his family. Once again, I don’t want to spoil the jokes about he has survived what to cook but let’s just say it involves an overcooked egg and a call to his grandmother overseas. The similar response he receives from his mother and his Nana are those that all guys have heard at one point.

Director Neha Poduval and Sitlani’s script adequately led me to catch a quick glimpse of where the playwright is at this point in his life. The script only refers to coming out of lockdown in March 2021, so there is no mention to what we’ve all endured since then. It’s an easy story to follow, but the challenge behind short plays is for the playwright to try and make his audience care about the subject material.

Sitlani appears to be an amiable and affable guy on camera, but other than that there wasn’t anything earth shattering I learned about human nature.

But…

I’ve heard it said that while the pandemic might have brought out the best in some people, it has also brought out the worst in others. There is one moment as the story nears its conclusion where Himanshu tells us an event with obvious and rightful anger, despair, and frustration about something which happened to him and his family. I found it fascinating on how he managed to maintain solid control of his emotional statements and didn’t venture into the histrionic, even in dropping the ‘f’ bomb, to reveal his deserved. frustration.

Give this one a look too.

STORIES OF A DISH presented by Nautanki Bazaar Productions
Director: Neha Poduval
Playwright and Performer: Himanshu Sitlani

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