Monday, 4 May 2009
A SUMMER PLAY
Two plays in a week! That was a real treat. When Augusto, friend, playwright and oculist, invited us to his latest, it was within a week of our seeing KB’s ‘Pournami’.
You would think that the enervating heat would bring to a halt all non-essential activites especially on the entertainment front. But, happily, it is not so. Chennai residents know what is in store for them weather-wise, and take it in their stride. For a few years now, Karthik Fine Arts has been doing a great service to theatre by promoting the staging of new plays and holding a contest for them, calling it the Summer Play Festival. Dramatists find it a good launching pad to present their latest, and also win a few prizes in the bargain.
Augusto is a regular here, and has almost always won prizes. And so we went to see ‘Mukham, Mukavarigal’, written and directed by him, on the last day of the festival. It had an unusual storyline (the opening scene immediately caught the interest of the audience) about a rich misogynist who grew up in a ‘home’ (euphemism for orphanage). His philanthropic nature does not extend to women, and the denouement tells us the reason for this. The suspense is well-maintained, and the viewer’s attitude to the misogynist turns from aversion to sympathy – good work by the director. The acting was uniformly good – all Augusto’s regular cast, except the sole female actor, Sujatha. The dialogue was crisp, and happily, there were no enforced humorous interpolations. The ten minute soliloquy by K. Raja, (the protagonist) was well presented and acted. I did not hold with the ending of letting the rich man be killed, and later told the playwright my view, who explained just why it had to end so. Could the last scene have been trimmed a bit? The negative side of reality television shows caused by comments from harsh and insensitive judges has been woven neatly into the main story.
I was impressed with the music by Guha Prasad also. Unobtrusive and melodious, it added greatly to the play’s charms. It is Augusto’s 29th play. “I used to write more in my early days,” he said. “But nowadays I write only one a year, having to attend to my other work as well.” Augusto’s Opticals is well-known in Mylapore.
All told it was a good play. The only glitch was the air-conditioning in the hall of Narada Gana Sabha. Either it was not set to the right temperature, or it was malfunctioning.
By the time we got up we felt acutely the lack of fresh air, and were drenched. ‘Summer festival living up to its name, I suppose.