The starcast it boasted of itself was more than enough to draw crowds to the theatre. It has been running for 8 years now. Its in the waning phase – as put by the director, Atul. They may not continue staging this for much longer in its current format to be precise. With names like Konkana Sen Sharma (a pity she couldn’t make it for the play this time around), Rajat Kapoor, Ranvir Shorey, Vinay Pathak starring in it, the play couldn’t be that bad, could it? And it was the first show to be sold out. People running around to find a seat for themselves showed that Chennai had taken notice and turned out in large numbers to bid adieu to this edition of the theatre fest. With this play for a fitting finale, I guess there will be more expectations for the next years edition for sure.
Loosely and I would say very very loosely baed on the book by psychiatrist Oliver Sacks, the play in itself, has no script! It’s based on memories. Plain human memories, memories of the cast, memories of friends, memories of holidays, memories of festivals, memories of celebration, memories of love, memories of death. Plain old memories – something we take for granted many times. On the sidelines is something to emphasize why memory is important. Interesting takes. Was wondering how an empty stage – sans any props be the ideal setting for a play and the same stage was transformed into so many different things and many living and non-living things were brought to life for the audience through the descriptions of the narrators(the actors in this case). The only thing that remains at the end of the play are abstract things written on the boards and memories of the memories of the narrators! It is the kind of play that has a hangover long after you have left the theatre. Hitting you with what happened there when you think of the play. For a play on memory, that is something great to achieve.
I had one major problem with the play though. A lot of the script or whatever there was of it was in Hindi. Not that it was hard to understand, but when you stage a play in Chennai where majority of the population don’t speak the language and when the play is being staged in a theatre fest by a Leading English Daily, you just don’t expect a non-English play unless forewarned. I know some people will come up with an argument that there was an Korean play right at the beginning of the seven days, but may I remind that it was a mime and puppet play, which is language agnostic. I think there could be a small level of customization they can do when they stage the play in non-Hindi speaking regions. The director sure did feign ignorance and oversight for this when asked, I guess when the production house is not new to Chennai and this is their 6th performance for the city some things need to be kept in mind. You need to explain to the person sitting next to you what exactly the dialogue meant as they don’t speak the language which kind of ruins the whole theatre going experience for the people around.
Given all that, it truly was a fitting finale. An overall review of the fest and the general things I liked and didn’t like about it comes up in the next post.