Theatre, Friday, March 10.
known to Fringe Festival attendees as the Monkey Poet, returned to Indy last
weekend for more stand-up poetry and the local premiere of his one-man play.
Comic, brainy and disturbing, Welcome to Afghanistan revisits the
massacre of thousands of British soldiers in the first Anglo-Afghan War
(1839-42). "Auckland's Folly" is probably the bread and butter of history
classes in England, but for many Americans, the term serves only as a vague
reference to imperial hubris. Clearly, Panesh has something to say about the
past and current tendencies of powerful countries to invade "weaker" countries,
only to discover that the locals have a surprisingly fierce commitment to
hanging on to them.
Still, he doesn't
beat on the point, until the very funny end. He's too busy mixing images of
Kipling's India with targeted portrayals of daft military leaders, misguided
soldiers, and journalists who collect tragic stories with a bloodlust all their
own. With physicality and vocal play that increases across the hour, Panesh turns
a dark history into dark comedy.