Metro Weekly

Editor’s Pick: ‘A Nice Indian Boy’ at Olney Theatre

Olney presents a timely work by Madhuri Shekar, one of today's fastest-rising and most prolific American playwrights.

A Nice Indian -- Photo: Ryan Maxwell
A Nice Indian — Photo: Ryan Maxwell

Following the premiere of her first play In Love and Warcraft, Madhuri Shekar was heralded as one of today’s fastest-rising and most prolific American playwrights.

Since that 2014 debut and its focus on video games and gamer culture, Shekar has also earned praise for her mastery at tackling intricate and distinct genres, as varied as science and science fiction, and historical drama and horror.

Shekar is at it again, this time with a contemporary American dramedy, or what Olney Theatre characterizes as “firmly in the mold of the great American kitchen sink dramas, leavened by a good dose of comedy.”

A Nice Indian Boy is a story about Naveen Gavaskar, a Marathi-speaking Hindu boy, meeting the boy of his dreams — another Hindu boy, Keshav, who loves the same Bollywood films and can cook a mean dal makhani.

It’s a match made in heaven that might even curry favor with his tradition-minded parents. Except, that is, for one small detail: Keshav was raised in an immersive and culturally rich Indian household by the Indian foster parents who adopted him, yet he himself is white.

Still, the two are madly in love and ready to announce that to the world, starting with Naveen’s parents and the Gavaskar family. As it turns out, Naveen’s white boyfriend isn’t the only surprise in store for the parents: His sister, Arundhathi, is ready to announce that she’s fleeing her traditional marriage.

A Nice Indian -- Photo: Ryan Maxwell
A Nice Indian Boy– Photo: Ryan Maxwell

Olney Theatre is presenting the play’s regional premiere in a production directed by Zi Alikhan and starring Carol Mazhuvancheril as Naveen opposite Noah Israel as Keshav. Naveen’s parents are played by Lynette Rathnam and Abhimanyu Katyal, while Jessica Jain plays Naveen’s sister Arundhathi.

A Nice Indian Boy is a play that immediately felt like ‘home’ to me — a South Asian-American story that is fundamentally an American story, one that centers on family, generational progress, and love in all its forms,” says director Alikhan.

“I’m unbelievably excited to find out how, through this play, Olney can be a home to so many folks for whom this story is extremely familiar and to situate the Gavaskar family in the canon of families that have graced the stages here for the last 90 years.”

In addition to attending the official opening this Saturday, March 11, Shekar will also participate in a conversation at 5 p.m. in the Mulitz-Gudelsky Theatre Lab with celebrated D.C.-based playwright Karen Zacarias focused on writing stories of the diaspora and clashing cultures in America.

Runs to April 9. Theatre Lab, Olney Theatre Center, 2001 Olney-Sandy Spring Rd., Maryland. Tickets are $54 to $79. Visit or call 301-924-3400.


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