Red Theatre’s production of Revolution 2020 rose above the source material to present an engaging play
City troupe Red Theatre chose Chetan Bhagat’s Revolution 2020 to make their stage debut in Bangalore. The story revolves around three friends and the different paths that their lives take. The choice of subject matter is contentious: Revolution 2020 is neither Bhagat’s most popular nor his best work. It pits good versus evil in the thinly disguised-garb of idealism versus corruption. But Red Theatre’s production fosters hope that with the right material, this troupe will be one to watch out for.
Gopal, Raghav and Aarti grow up together in Varanasi, all harbouring dreams of making it to the top. Gopal, in love with Aarti, is forced to simultaneously deal with her rejection as well as a poor showing in his engineering entrance examinations. Raghav, admitted to a top engineering college, embarks on a relationship with Aarti while Gopal is sent to Kota to repeat the year. Gopal, after missing out in the examinations again and losing his sole surviving parent, enters into an unholy alliance with MLA Shukla and builds an engineering college. Raghav graduates and becomes a journalist who seeks to expose the truth while Gopal continues to test the limits of his conscientiousness.
The Prithvi Aradhya directorial stayed true to the book resulting in a two-and-a-half hour long production and a second half that lagged. But the troupe didn’t get Bhagat’s blessing for nothing. Their innovations resulted in a remarkably watchable performance. Traditional line drawings, ironically used as digital backdrops, were simple and beautiful. The set, a V-shaped angled ramp with a boat in the middle, was versatile and lent dimension to the proceedings. The performers were uniformly pleasing.
The stars of the show, however, were the butterfly men. Functioning alternately as a Greek chorus, a dance troupe and a choir, they were the externalisation of Gopal’s conscience. Over the course of the play, they played double and triple roles, stood in as props, inhabited the background and generally infused life into the play. Watch out for the hilarious slow motion cricket sequence as well as the telephone one. The laughs during the play came free and fast, as much from the dialogue as from the performers.
Told in a flashback, Red Theatre’s performance was not without its flaws, but the sheer energy and freshness that the troupe displayed almost allayed them all. By working on the plot, acting and dialogue delivery, this troupe could be one to watch out for.