Thursday, January 19, 2023

Paradise or The Impermanence of Ice Cream


Paradise or The Impermanence of Ice Cream by Jacob Rajan and Justin Lewis.  Indian Ink Theatre Company (New Zealand) for Sydney Festival 2023 at Lennox Theatre, Riverside Theatres, Parramatta January 17-22, 2023.

Reviewed by Frank McKone
January 18

Writer/Director – Justin Lewis
Dramaturg – Murray Edmond
Set Design/Projected Imagery Artist – John Verryt
Costume Design – Elizabeth Whiting
Composer/Sound Design/Musician – David Ward
Musician – Adam Ogle
Lighting Design/Production/Tour Manager – Andrew Potvin
Projected Imagery/Photographer/Editor – Bala Murali Shingade

Performed by
Writer/Actor – Jacob Rajan
Puppet Designer/Builder/Puppeteer – Jon Coddington

Jacob Rajan and Jon Coddington
in Paradise or The Impermanence of Ice Cream

 It’s hard to know where to start and end discussing Paradise or The Impermanence of Ice Cream.  It is a play with seven characters all performed by a man who is dead at the beginning, just as a traditional vulture begins to clean his bones; and places himself in the same position at the end for the vulture to continue providing its service to humanity.

In the intervening 110 minutes we are thoroughly entertained while learning about the way of doing business in Mumbai, especially selling ice cream; about the need for conservation of the dwindling population of vultures (I wondered if human induced climate change is a factor in addition to our poisoning them - › wiki › Indian_vulture_crisis); and about human cultural rituals in response to the knowledge that the most consistent feature of life is that all of us will die.

Emotionally, Jon Coddington’s vulture is beautiful; while Jacob Tajan’s physicality, even to the most extraordinary facial expressions, is reminiscent of and equally powerful as the master of mime, Marcel Marceau.  

Then, David Ward explains, Each new Indian Ink production presents new challenges, new instrumentation, new techniques and technology, and Paradise has been no different! Significant this time around has been the move away from live musical instruments, towards a much more atmospheric sound design. The lack of physical props and minimal set, means that sound effects play a huge role in defining the sense of place and atmosphere. This has meant delving into hundreds of sound effects and many, hours editing and mixing them to create the sound world. Marceau could never have imagined such a sound and video-imagery setting, becoming a character in its own right in this constantly surprising, often funny yet thoughtful play.

As a Festival presentation, the originality of this work, the quality of the performance, the cross-cultural standing of the Indian Ink company, and its origin and history in Aotearoa New Zealand makes Paradise or The Impermanence of Ice Cream an ideal choice.

Jon Coddington and Jacob Rajan
in Paradise or The Impermanence of Ice Cream