An elephant headed god, a hopeful grandmother, and a little boy from Texas

Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.

This weekend, Neal Dandade’s original play “Mango Chutney on Mesa Street,” as directed by Maria Möller, will be premiering in LPAC’S Frear Theater stage. The one-act, one man show is a beautifully assembled coming of age story narrating one boy’s struggle with his cultural identity. The performance will be given Friday, February 17 at 7pm, Saturday, February 18 at 7pm and 10pm, and Sunday, February 19 at 7pm.

Starring Neal Dandade ’06, who gave a cathartic and complex performance as Bishop earlier this year in “Fat Men in Skirts,” does a remarkable job transforming seamlessly from one character to the next. Whether portraying the protagonist, Neal, Neal’s grandmother, or the deity Ganesh, Dandade succeeds in developing distinctly different personas while respecting the integrity of each. Humorous and smart without being harsh, the story is affectionately and feelingly crafted.

The play moves along quickly, without losing dynamism despite a relatively simple format. The performance tidily utilizes the Frear stage; rich, saturated oranges, incense and traditional Indian music creating atmosphere within the ring of performance space. The ingenious lighting designed by Kim Comer deftly combines with a simple and effective space (managed by Phil Katz ’07) to create a remarkably versatile space.

A strong performance and a well executed design make this charming play a joy to watch. Given the limited amount of seating in the Frear, it is recommended that one arrives fifteen minutes early for seating.

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