Chat with Sharon Singh and Adam Samuel-Bal
21 February 2018
The Game of Love and Chai is about the games that potential suitors Rani and Raj play during their first meeting, when each pretends to be someone else. We sat down with actors Sharon Singh (Rani) and Adam Samuel-Bal (Raj) to discuss costumes, confidantes and romance.
Adam, you were in Bollywood Jack at Tara Theatre in 2016. How does it feel to be back?
How’s your character’s sartorial sense this time around?
ASB: It’s still a bit of a secret as the rest of the cast haven’t seen it, but my costume this time is both grotesque and amazing. It’s all about this idea of who am I (Raj) trying to be?
Sharon, you’ve previously acted in an adaptation of Moliere’s The Misanthrope in Paris. Is there anything from that experience that you bring to this one?
SS: A lot of the work I’ve done before has been on classical texts. The Misanthrope was also a modern adaptation, but was bilingual. The French theatre is very different and of course that comes from Moliere and Marivaux. Even the way that they style even their modern theatre is different to British theatre. It was a unique experience working with French directors and actors, and of course to hear the text in its original language. I’m drawn to the idea of translations, adaptation and the role of language in conveying the writer’s intent.
Can we assume you’re impressing the rest of the cast with spontaneous recitations of Marivaux?
SS: Not quite! At the first read, we were all round the table and there was a terrifying moment when Nigel and Jatinder asked me what this one line would be in French. My French isn’t that good! But I couldn’t bring myself to say that. I’m not sure I got away with it!
What do you think drives Rani, particularly at the beginning of the play?
SS: I think initially it’s all too easy to think of Rani as being hard and mean, arrogant even, but I see her more as being driven by fear of humiliation. The possibility of humiliation, rather than rejection. Her relationship with the audience is a big part of her story. The audience are her confidantes. You see that she’s not vulnerable like that with anyone else in the play, even her mother.
Adam, how are you approaching your character, Raj?
ASB: I’d say he’s uptight, romantic, earnest and a lothario (in waiting). Unlike with Rani, the first time the audience sees Raj is when he’s already “in character”, playing the game. You see glimpses of him coming through now and then, and then of course it all unravels spectacularly! He’s usually very proper, so pretending to be someone with less decorum is not easy for him! But as far as he’s concerned, he’s the one who started this, by convincing his driver to switch places with him.
Nigel Planer’s description of the play is that it’s about the ridiculous things we do when we’re in love. What are some ridiculous things you’ve done?
ASB: On my first Valentine’s Day with my girlfriend, I did the whole sherbang. Heart-shaped, hand-written cards all the way up the stairs to my flat, rose petals, a tux, cooked a vegan tagine…the whole works. Thing is, I haven’t been able to beat it since!
SS: I’m definitely sentimental, but not hopelessly so! I think we all start off a little ridiculous, and then we relax, or mellow, should I say. Though who knows about Raj and Sita!