Vidura Bandara Rajapaksa invites you into his life with a calming presence and relaxed storytelling style. While each line may not guarantee a huge laugh, he grabs your attention and successfully keeps it through the full show.
Providing a snapshot of his life, Rajapaksa speaks about his childhood in a not-always-pleasant home in Sri Lanka and moving to live, study and work in countries such as the US, Singapore, Germany and here in the UK. Covering an eclectic array of topics, such as militant Buddhists (an oxymoron if you’ve ever heard one), orgies, hard water, taxes, doctors and colonialism, Rajapaksa’s sharp observational eye is evident. Many in the audience could especially relate with his rant on the expat vs immigrant experience.
The darkness of the venue combined with his casual, conversational style as he sits throughout the show is reminiscent of being told a cosy tale around a bonfire. Rajapaksa admits himself that the audience energy at this particular performance isn’t as high as he usually expects, and in turn, that may have impacted his own. It seems like he may have cut his show slightly short due to it as I missed the reason why he titled his show Monsoon Season – had a joke been skipped? The set also ends abruptly and not on the biggest laugh, which is a shame and a bit jarring, especially since the rest of the show is smooth and enjoyable. However, what Rajapaksa does achieve is the impressive task of handling hard topics such as abuse, bulimia, poverty and the not-always-blatant racism in a way as to not let the mood drop in the room. He also evokes laughter at topics you wouldn’t think you would ever chuckle at, but never in an insensitive or off-putting manner.
Rajapaksa’s charming, inviting manner is bound to win the audience over and is an important voice at Fringe. It’ll be exciting to see what this ‘historically accurate’ Jesus-lookalike does next!