Review by Devan Marr
Drama, Dance, Comedy, Solo | 50 minutes
Bulls Heart is a solid production. From the creator of the popular Under the Mango Tree from last year’s festival comes a piece about living for others, the meaning of success, and the compromises you make to get there. Solid is the best way to describe this piece. The story is solid, the acting is solid and the production is solid.
The story focuses on a successful business woman Tunuja, the daughter of Indian immigrant parents. She is successful, respected, married, and happy. Or at least she thinks she is happy. Through flashbacks, exposition, and dance, we see that success does not always equate to happiness and while it appears Tunuja has everything she wants, she might actually have nothing.
The script touches on a lot of broad themes. Most notably, what does it mean to be successful? We see that by any objective standard Tunuja is successful. She is an important business woman, she is married, has children, and generally wants for nothing. Of course as we later find out, this success comes at a price. The audience will hear about the compromises she has had to make in order to succeed in a predominantly male field. You see the constant armour she has to wear for fear of being seen as weak, or too womanly.
Veenesh Dubois plays Tunuja and is an excellent actress who does a fantastic job of switching between the various characters in her show. A concerned mother, an obstinant father, a lost connection, all portrayed strongly and convincingly. For those of you who are worried about the “dance” element, it’s a very minor part of the play used to break up the various scenes. It adds a nice clear compartmentalizing effect to the scenes which enhances the minimalist set.
The main turn in the plot is when, at her mother’s insistence, Tunuja goes from her home in a bustling metropolis back to India to meet the woman who nudged her to correct her path in life. Veenesh does an excellent job of portraying the contrast of Canada and rural India. The pace of the play slows as she reunites with her mother’s friend back in India to reflect a simple, fulfilling life, as opposed to late night parties and climbing the corporate ladder. Of course, while in India Tunuja discovers something about her past that alters her future.
Bulls Heart is refreshingly well done piece at this year’s Ottawa Fringe. My only complaint is that the conflict is resolved too quickly and seemingly easily. A majority of the play is spent discussing how Tunuja’s life has gone off the rails with only a minor portion needed to fix it. Now maybe that’s the point. Maybe epiphanies and moments of clarity are brief and profound, but for me it just felt a little rushed. In any event, it was only a minor gripe with an otherwise great show. If you are looking for serious, touching piece with a bit of dark humour, Bulls Heart should be on your short list.
Bulls Heart is playing at Venue 4 – Studio Leonard Beaulne. The next show times are Saturday, June 21 at 18:00, Sunday, June 22, at 14:30, Tuesday, June 24, at 22:30, Friday, June 27, at 19:30, and Saturday, June 28, at 16:00.