Since moving to Bangalore I can count the number of cultural events I’ve attended on … wait … no hands! I did have tickets for a play in Whitefield once but the traffic was so bad that when we finally arrived we had missed the opening so just went to dinner out there instead. It’s actually a bit embarrassing to admit that I haven’t been to a concert, play, opera, dance or theater production until just recently. It has always been a small part of my life in the US and Spain (hell, even when I lived in Mexico for that matter) and I actually miss it. So I was thrilled to bits when I saw that The Lalit Ashok was starting up what they call “Theater Konnection” and that they promise to hold quarterly from now on.
Theater Konection is actually dinner theatre and it is truly FABULOUS. In fact, they won my heart over even before I stepped one foot through the ballroom door. Outside there was a nicely dressed server in the hall holding a silver tray with large goblets of red and white wine sitting atop it. Ahhh, bless you my son! That beats a mocktail any day in my book. On top of that, Amit Samson, the General Manager, Rohit Joshi, the culinary executive, and the lovely public relations manager Radhika Dhruv were all dressed to perfection and in line outside the entrance as well to welcome each and every guest personally to their inaugural event. It was a very nice touch.
Set in one of the hotel’s Grand Ball Rooms, the stage was host to an English theatre repertory called Dramanon and the dining hall played host to the delights of Chef Nimish Bhatia. The room was set with large, round linen-covered tables set for 6 guests each to ensure that everyone had a great view of the stage. There is no assigned seating aside from one or two reserved tables for the celebrity guests and hosts so it was fun to wander about for a moment and pick our seats next to a cute married couple on a date.
Service at the event was what you’d expect from The Lalit – fast and wonderful. Not more than 30 seconds passed after we sat down that a waiter brought over a fun assortment of munchies for me and my friend to nibble on during the performance. Since the play wouldn’t start until 8:30pm and lasted 90 minutes, the Chef knew that stomachs would very likely be rumbling during the performance so he prepared fun finger foods for everyone. We had a bowl of buttery popcorn, a basket of tender chicken strips and Mexican corn chips with guacamole – yum!
People-watching was good fun before they dimmed the lights. There was one group of expats, lots of couples out on a date, a few families (some even brought small children which I found rather odd since small children can’t sit still for 90 minutes to watch a dialogue-heavy production) and what looked like a couple of groups of avid theatre-goers (you know, the fabulously clever looking literary types). The Kannada film actress Ragini was also on hand to give a quick introduction and welcome to the guests. Some women were dressed in salwar kameez or sarees, others in short skirts and cocktail dresses. And as always the gentlemen were dressed in western wear – sadly no kurtas or traditional Indian clothes on them which I adore.
Mixing theatre and food and – of course – wine was perfect. The actors of the romantic comedy play Pizzazz did an amazing job. For 90 minutes they bantered back and forth like rock stars, never skipping a beat and never making a single mistake that I noticed anyway. The whole audience laughed out loud throughout the play and kept wondering what would happen next. It was great fun.
One funny thing did happen that I won’t be forgetting soon and had absolutely nothing to do with the play itself. Lately I’m on a “you know you live in India” kick on my Facebook Page and I definitely knew I was in India during the play when the older gent sitting at the table in front of us, with his hand saucily on the leg of his young date hidden under a coat, burped. I’m sure my jaw dropped and my eyes bugged out because it was the strangest thing to break the silence in a play that I’ve ever heard. Sadly it didn’t happen just the once either so I’m guessing this is a-okay behavior in his home. Trust me, he should be glad he didn’t grow up at my house with my Mom ‘cuz there’s no way that would have flown at the table!
When the play was over, the cast mingled and had dinner with the audience. Chef Nimish Bhatia prepared a lovely spread for us that was setup in an adjoining room and opened up to the guests following the show. It included a delicious mushroom soup and fresh breads, with veg options like salads, wraps and lasagna. And non-veg treats like chopped mutton biryani that was out of this world.
I’m definitely looking forward to October when the next Dinner Theatre comes to town. This first go-around I had nibbled far too much on our snacks during the play so I had to graciously bail out on dessert but there was so much on offer that next time I’m going to nibble less so I can splurge more later!! If you live in Bangalore, be sure to email The Lalit Ashok and ask to be on their alert list for the dinner theatre so you don’t miss it.
(reviewer Angela Carson)