Notes On Chai @ Southbank Centre (Alchemy Festival 2017) Review

Notes on Chai is a collection of snippets of everyday conversations interwoven with abstract sound explorations that attempt to relocate our relationship with the quotidian.

Courtesy of the Southbank Centre.

Courtesy of the Southbank Centre.

Notes on Chai juxtaposes the speech of everyday conversations with segments that use the voice simply as an instrument of sound and explores the inner and outer landscape of urban life through everyday conversations.
Jyoti Dogra is a theatre practitioner based in Mumbai. In the past few years her theatre practice has moved increasingly towards making devised pieces that are not narrative or text based but use the self as a starting point. She has been devising, directing and performing original works, that are strongly invested in the body, exploring physical and vocal (sound) imagery, with only minimal design support. The material and the aesthetics of her work are strongly rooted in the urban Indian ethos, making it very immediate in its concerns and rooted in personal histories.


Notes on Chai collates the everyday conversation and regular routine of her morning Chai or coming together with friends and family over a Chai. Dogra highlights the ritual of having Chai by herself and enjoying her own company and silence within hectic India and London. Her story of coming to London through arranged marriage and dreams of becoming a fashion designer are immediately shut down by her husband by telling her she will work in a convenience store.


Dogra is an engaging performer and the intimate space she is playing in suits her piece. She asks the questions of what it is to be happy through a big smile but ends up saying ‘we have to be happy’. The happiness comes from being grateful that she is in London working but there is sadness in the mundane. The indifference in her delivery ‘I don’t drink but when my husband wants me to late at night’ she addresses the duty she has as a wife to keep him happy even if it makes her uncomfortable. It is chilling to watch as she exposes that although she is married, sex is obligatory.


Her approach to theatre making is unique and suited to a concentrated audience, at points it drags due to the same intensity and pace, which almost becomes predictable. However, there is no denying her skill level and originality. 2.5/5

Review written by Jessica Andrade.

Notes on Chai was shown at the Southbank Centre as part of the Alchemy Festival on Thursday 25th May. To watch a trailer for Notes on Chai, visit here…

Written by Theatrefullstop