London Express – Review by Suma Subramaniam

Originally posted in

Indus Creations is a South Indian theater group in Seattle Area.

In 2006, this group was born from “Aranmanai Siruvayalil” , a play that transformed a handful of Tamizh techies in Seattle to brilliant stage performers.

In the next couple of years, the cast and crew grew in number. They cranked up great quality in the selection of stories, staging, acting and directing mainstream and suspense thrillers with “Kadavul Vandhirundhar” ( God had arrived) and “Ragasiya Snegidiye” (Secret Lover)

This year, they did it again, beating their own benchmark standards in staging “London Express” a complete laugh-out-loud comedy play.

They staged two successful shows on Sunday, June 7 2009 at Meydenbauer Theater in Bellevue, WA. The tickets were sold out at least four days before the play and there was a waiting list.

It’s important to note that the theater group is a non-profit org and the proceeds from the tickets go to support a cause every year.

This year, it was Unitus, an international nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing innovative, market-based solutions to global poverty.

I loved it so much that I couldn’t wait to write this review for London Express:

At a time when the slump in the economy has almost everyone depressed, London Express is more than just a pleasant surprise.

It has jokes, well-executed clichés from Tamil movies – the most hilarious ones to spare us. The play is clever, confident, highly energetic and constantly engaging for a two hour thirty minute ride.

The plot is about what happens when the passengers of London Express, a flight to London are faced with a bomb threat at Chennai Airport.


The storyline was created by Manoj Sivakumar. The script for the play is the work of a six-man team also responsible for roles in direction and acting – Arjun Sundararajan, Manoj Sivakumar, Pradeep Ganapathyraj, Ramkumar Swaminathan, Sridharan Ramanathan and Sridhar Visvanath. Production was handled by the ever energetic Dhigha Sekaran.

These guys are endlessly inventive.

I caught up with some of the writers to talk about the script during its drafting process. One of things that I conceived was a significant challenge in the play was that there were multiple main characters and therefore several arcs to every character’s journey.

I’m no expert, of course, I’m merely an author of a book of poems and working on my first novel, but it seems clear to me that to sustain throughout any script, the plot must have a great deal of action and the characters must have an equally great deal of substance.

Somehow, these writers creatively managed to create that action around the plot and more importantly within the characters.

Some of the characters like Shankar Narayanan, Balram Naidu, Maragadhavalli and Shalini ended up coming full circle, but there was a curve of some description for the other characters as well. Even the linear characters were given the prominence they needed.

The six of them have put together a much smoother script than most solo script writers can manage. The characters have explicit authenticity in the accent. The dialogue has a cheerful in depth feeling. It also has a steadier and consistent comic attitude than the previous plays by the group. The loose ends were effectively tied up with a story line in projection screens.


The casting and acting was brilliant. The characters themselves were not complex, but they had realistic, multiple dimensions – some of them like Balram Naidu, Shankar Narayanan,Shalini, Vinay, Murali, the terrorist, Thannikachalam and the stewardess also had conflicting dimensions that was a great delight to see.

Facing the audience and keeping one’s back away from the audience is an important element of professional acting. Some of them were so seasoned from previous acting experience that it felt like they merely needed a situation thrown at them and they took on a life of their own within the characters.

Their diction, delivery and expressions to a situation were more straightforward with a well defined character.

Kids – fulfilled the screenplay with all their witty, innocent ways.

Zorro – A good cheese spread and Tirupathi Laddu can make this sweet animal act with brilliance. How adorable. A dog like Zorro is such an easy labor of love.

Stage Design Direction, Stage Design and Props:

The stage setting had more to offer this time with a much more reactive and dynamic stage design – working LCD monitors, glass windows, the attractive Café Coffee Day setting, projection screens and a fantastically designed airport.

Every little change in the setting seems to have been well addressed – great attention to detail, for example, the textures of material used, the color of paint in the coffee shop, the props and so on captured great visual interest.

Transition time was very effectively utilized in most places.

The projection videos at a couple of places lingered for longer or appeared much before the actual sequence but this was soon taken care of.

The cast made excellent use of the props. They gave much power linking their stage actions closely with the props through effective movements and gestures.

Music and Sounds:

The fact that these guys created their own music for the title song was very creative and was a pleasant surprise.

The title song was audible, though the music overpowered the lyrics in many places. I hope this will be taken care of in the DVD.

The sound effects were mostly good and effective. Although in a few places, the effects lost sync and some voices were distinctly louder than the others, I’m not sure if this was a problem with the mike system.


was very cool and created great visual interest. I loved the dimming, brightening and the drama of it all.

Make-up and Costume:

Make-up was very authentic and so were the costumes. The hair-cut, dyes, colors were absolutely fabulous. It was evident these artists in the back stage and the actors made quite an effort to bring about the faces look so distinct according to the age of the character.

Overall, the play didn’t allow me to leave my seat until the finish.

The dvd’s should be out soon. Do get yourself a copy if you understand Tamil.

If you’ve read this far, you probably realize that I’ve fallen in love with this theater group.

The cast and crew that are involved with this non-profit organization truly deserve a word of praise and healthy nurturing.

Please help support Indus Creations.

If you wish to learn more about, contribute or participate in the events of this theater group, visit their website @

See you next week!

– Suma.


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