John Green is an Anglo-Indian Australian actor who dreams of being cast in his favourite soap, ‘Bondi Parade’. However coloured contacts don’t hide that he is more brown than sun-bronzed.
“…All the while his skin-bleaching mother is trying to get him to procreate with a white, blonde woman to cleanse the ethnicity out of their bloodline – and all hell breaks loose when he falls in love with an Aboriginal girl!”
Produced by Bali Padda, Lighten Up (sort of) brings Bollywood to the Griffin Theatre as it closes out their indie offerings for the year. Leading man and co-playwright Nicolas Brown doesn’t deny that this farcical comedy is in part semi-autobiographical, borrowing from antics of his own larger than life mixed-race family and awkward (often racist) audition room experiences.
While this play is inherently political, it is first and foremost a comedy, and Brown credits co-writer Sam McCool with taking it from “quirky” to “laugh-out-loud”.
“Sam [McCool] is a brown comedian and I’m a brown actor and writer, so I think the fact that it’s coming from us and its coming from a truthful place…hopefully people will identify with that,” said Brown. “I think what happens in Australia, if there are non-Caucasian characters…they’re often written by white writers who don’t really understand the complexities of what its like to be non-Caucasian.”
Starting its life as a Bollywood film script penned a decade ago and last year developed as part of the Sydney Theatre Company’s Rough Drafts program, Brown explains: “[Lighten Up] was bent and shaped into so many different things, and I’m so glad that finally its getting born in this way [with Griffin Theatre]”.
“At the end of the day, it really is a celebration…of diversity, and it’s a way to laugh at ourselves and how ridiculous we are – white Australians are trying to be brown and tan themselves, while Indians are trying to bleach themselves to be white. It looks at the hypocrisy of those things and takes the piss out of it all!” (AM)
Until Dec 17, Mon-Sat 7pm. SBW Stables Theatre, 10 Nimrod St, Kings Cross. $30-$38 ($20 Monday rush). Tickets & info: www.griffintheatre.com.au