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Friday Review » Theatre

Updated: December 20, 2010 20:28 IST

Blurring identities

Suneetha B.
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A scene from The Lover Inside. Photo: S. Gopakumar
The Hindu A scene from The Lover Inside. Photo: S. Gopakumar

The Lover is one of Harold Pinter's early works and one that well-represents the playwright's style. In this contemporary one-act play, Pinter observes a regular English household with a pretentious couple.

The Lover plays out a gimmick of a drawing room drama, where the spouse doubles up as the mysterious lover and there is a fine line of vanishing identities that overlaps the two personas adopted by the pair. Pinter's language in The Lover sparkles with a rare veracity, and the tense situations and the dialogue ensures that the play rocks.

The Lover Inside, an adaptation of this play, was staged at the city's Vyloppilly Samskriti Bhavan last week by Stage Blur, a group of theatre enthusiasts based at Hyderabad Central University.

Abhimanyu, who directed The Lover Inside, explores the play in a novel manner using a bi-lingual interpretation of Pinter and brings two couples on stage, instead of one. But how far this experiment has been effective is to be read from the layers that open up to the audiences.

While the protagonists on stage managed to endear themselves to the viewers through precise enactments of their roles, the treatment of a two-language interpretation has not really reached out to the viewer with any specific meaning.

The play is a comment on the decay of the bourgeois marriage as also on the need to balance basic instincts with our disciplined, formal selves. The skill with which Pinter in The Lover leads us into a triangular drama enacted by two people showing us the danger of dividing our sexual lives into watertight compartments is fascinating. The Lover Inside stops slightly short of this reading. The play earnestly aspired to but could not attempt to reach a quintessential Pinter bouquet.

Abhimanyu says that the adaptation is his version of a ‘solution to the current scenario of failing marriages.' The use of dreams to counter reality could be an effective weapon in overcoming the short comings of an ‘aam shaadi.'

One is well reminded that it is the voice that carries the dialogue with all its force in this play, and this could be one of the points that the team behind The Lover Inside needs to work on.

The dialogue in the original is sparse, and needs to be rendered with a ringing clarity, and it could be the acoustics of the Vyloppilly Bhavan that didn't aid the play much. But the Pinteresque silences in the original play has surprisingly been salvaged and used with perception to put across the ‘pauses' that Pinter uses in plenty in his plays.

Psychological warfare

The psychological warfare waged by the married couple is simply the continuation of a marital peace and the language of secret anguish plays out in the pauses, silences and the humdrum dialogues of everyday life. As also the props are used sparingly and to good effect, as Pinter has intended in his scripts.

The use of multi-media devices to narrate on two levels on stage was fairly effective. Kannan took his bows for multi-media handling.

Music by Muhammed Kheseli Nooran, an Iranian student of Theatre, and award winning musician was noteworthy in its subtlety. Govind Rao handled the lights commendably. The people on stage were Siddharth Verma, (Richards) Sreedevi P. (Sara), Sreejith Ramanan (John), Vipin (husband) and Elsa (wife).


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