UNUSUAL “A Play About Death” was amateur theatre at its brilliant best, says RACHEL PAMELA JOSEPH
It’s so much fun when something you’re a part of involves bringing conventionality to the fore and whacking it on the head with a banana peel. Yes, you heard me — a banana peel. It was a Saturday afternoon at the Alliance Française well spent, as “A Play About Death” by Prodigy Next in association with Masquerade Youth Theatre, proved that it was amateur theatre at its brilliant best. Among a horde of accusations pertaining to being hilarious and profound, this play was particularly guilty of ingenuity.
There was no “play” to speak of; only a disgruntled actor, Peter (Zerxes Irani), who decided he wanted to face off Death, Ralph (Nakul Jayadevan), whose mafia-type obsession with facts (and precision) turns ridiculous, Godo (Rahul Ramesh), the bored guy from the “audience” who brings zest to the confused philosophising and Muzzamil, who keeps dying while others survive stab wounds, simply because it’s in the script. The Monologue about death and its irrational nature, the ensuing conversations on anything ranging from the time (which was seven hours, twenty minutes, fifty four seconds and…huh!?!) to the meaning of life (which according to Google is still 42) and the questions of characters and the “Great Scriptwriter”, may have re-written some of the rules of theatre and the various approaches to a topic like death.
Playwrights Thomas Manuel, Visvak Reddy and director Harish Adithya went all out on their preoccupation with Tom Stoppard till the audience was confused as to where the stage ended and the audience began, um…only that an audience member or two stepped on stage to act and an actor took to viewing the drama from the audience. Though it seemed to suffer from the effects of speed, the dialogue was one of the most interesting aspects of the “play”, which showed a certain level of being informed, on the theatrical greats in scriptwriting, to musical legends from the 1960s and down to the 21st century celebrity trivia of today: simply put, it was well researched and very informative. The “barricade in a bar room” concept for the sets and props set the viewer’s mind rolling while effectively representing the polar opposites shown in Peter’s drunken ramblings on death and the hit-man like focus of Ralph’s attention to detail.
The play was full of these moments where you were hit by something that made you want to stop and think but you couldn’t because the tide that is “A Play About Death” swept you away. Peter had a point: the Grim Reaper was only “a pile of bones, propped up by our own fears”. Ralph’s frightened realisation that he might only be a character in a play and would bleed ink if killed, coupled with the child-like pathos, brought one back to the movie, “Sleepy Hollow”, where Johnny Depp’s impassioned screams that “the Headless Horseman is real” wrenched the heart strings. And the most captivating part of the play was the dedication of the play, by the director, to the emotion that all the people in this generation relate to — anger. Talk about the unconventional!
Rachel is pursuing her first year MA at MCC.
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