Siddhartha: Life IS a Journey
The Sun Yat Sen Garden is an iconic Vancouver location and not one that is intuitively a great place to put on a show. But in the epic Fringe play, Siddhartha, the performers use every inch of this space to bring the audience into another world – a beautiful world of rustic villages, primeval forests, wondrous cities and peaceful secluded spots down by the river.
Siddhartha is the name of the protagonist, a charismatic and clever figure who seems destined for greatness but carries a heavy burden of existential doubt wherever he goes. In a quest for nirvana, he tries different religions but ultimately abandons them to learn more about the world. He gains material success, but is still left feeling hollow. Between the old religion of his youth and the hustle of the big city, will he ever find what he is looking for?
While the lead role is played with skill by Zamir Dhanji, this is far from being a one man show that is so prevalent at the Fringe. An entire ensemble cast of actors, dancers and performers fill up the various “stages” with graceful movement, beautiful costumes, delightful music and memorable characters. It’s no cliché to say that Siddhartha is not merely seen; it is experienced. You might think that all of the activity would be distracting, but I just found it delightful -- a treat for the senses.
Behind all of the colorful performances, it’s clear that this play has benefited from a very experienced and capable writer and director, Jesai (AKA Jeff Burnett). Every line of dialogue counts. It is intelligent, tackling serious religious and philosophical ideas with remarkable dexterity and good humor.
Siddhartha is an interactive performance. It brings in the audience and you can see the actors in turn feeding off of it. They joy and passion they feel for this show creates a great energy for all who take part. It is an incredible performance that will leave you feeling a little slice of nirvana.