THEATRE: Fringe-fresh kidnapping comedy/drama hits Newton stage

‘Mrs. Singh & Me’ finds humour in story of a desperate man and the mother of a girl he loves

Munish Sharma and Nimet Kanji in “Mrs. Singh & Me

Munish Sharma and Nimet Kanji in “Mrs. Singh & Me

NEWTON — Desperately in love and at the end of his rope, Raj resorts to crime in order to win over the woman he wants to marry.

The kidnapping tale unfolds in “Mrs. Singh & Me,” a dark comedy that explores the injustices of arranged marriage.

Munish Sharma plays the lead male in a story he wrote four years ago in his spare time, while also crafting material for the I Can’t Believe it’s Not Butter Chicken comedy troupe he co-created.

All along, through several drafts of his first script, he had Nimet Kanji in mind to play Mrs. Kuldeep Singh, the justifiably cranky, wrist-bound mother of the girl he loves.

“When I wrote the play, I was very clear about wanting a strong female character,” Sharma told the Now. “There aren’t a lot of roles like that in theatre, and it was important for me to create one.”

The two-hander, set in a warehouse or basement of some kind, was a hit during a six-date run at the venerable Cultch theatre (aka Vancouver East Cultural Centre) during the Vancouver Fringe Festival earlier this month.

The hour-long play comes to Newton Cultural Centre’s black-box theatre for five stagings next Thursday through Saturday (Oct. 2 to 4).

“Mrs. Singh & Me” is produced by Gurpreet Sian and Rohit Chokhani of South Asian Arts Society, which works to promote South Asian music, dance and theatre.

Sharma (as the groom) met Kanji (playing his mother) while the two worked in the society’s “Bollywood Wedding,” the theatre-dance production staged outdoors at the PNE in 2009 and 2013.

“We got along so well, and I told her that I hoped we’d get to work together again one day,” said the Saskatchewan-raised Sharma.

“So in 2013, when I got the strength to ask her, she said yes, and that made me really happy. It’s been a dream come true, to be quite honest. I’ve told anyone near and dear to me, anyone who’ll listen, that everything I’ve wished for with the play has happened, and it’s happened through time and patience.”

Sharma said there’s just a touch of autobiography in the script, directed by Kathleen Duborg for its run in Vancouver and Surrey.

“I chose to write this play because we all judge people and ideas that we don’t understand,” he noted.

“Above all, I hope the audience will interpret this as a play not only about South Asian culture, but about issues we all experience in Canada.”

Tickets for “Mrs. Singh & Me” are $20 and available online at Mrssingh.eventbrite.ca and in person at Kamal’s Video Palace, at 8268 120th St., Surrey.

tom.zillich@thenownewspaper.com