Body-swap comedies are big in the cinema. From the mother-daughter switch of Freaky Friday to the boy who finds himself an adult in Big, Hollywood loves to show what the world looks like through someone else’s eyes.
Safe to say, however, that few such movies concern the transformation of Hindu gods into street-smart hedonists. And a dead cert that none of them takes place in Dundee.
This unlikely gap in the market is filled with some swagger by playwright Jaimini Jethwa in Hindu Times, this weekend’s instalment of Sound Stage, the audio drama collaboration between Pitlochry Festival theatre and Edinburgh’s Royal Lyceum.
Jethwa’s divine beings find themselves at an accidental lock-in at a Spar shop on a night made for partying. Vishnu’s eternal quest to be united with Lakshmi – “the bonniest of all the goddesses” – takes place not on the banks of the Godavari but somewhere near the Tay.
Having taken on human form, Lakshmi has all her former independence of mind but something less of her spiritual depth. Played by Rehanna McDonald in Caitlin Skinner’s funny production, she is a sharp-talking young woman in a North Face jacket who protects herself by acting tough, “the Dundee MO”.
Vishnu and Brahma, meanwhile, have shown up in their trainers as Vince and Barry, determined to remind Lakshmi of her true nature in between the banter and the drug talk. They’ve arrived in the city on the Megabus from Dunfermline and seem more interested in night life than eternal life. Played by Adam McNamara and Daniel Portman, they are an unholy double act, half deity, half bampot.
It’s ribald in the manner of the Christian mystery plays, its comedy created in the clash of the esoteric and profane. You wouldn’t call it pious, but somehow, as it juxtaposes big thoughts about timeless love with the realpolitik of everyday survival, it makes it seem that Dundee’s No 1 rule about casual sex – “Nae ridin’ and bidin’” – has something to do with Sanskrit philosophy.
By the end, you could believe that even when the stock is past its sell-by date, the ocean of milk in a corner shop might still be a route to eternal life.
Hindu Times is available online, 28–30 May, from Pitlochry Festival theatre and the Royal Lyceum.