Directors of “The Real Inspector Hound”, Nayantara Kotian and Prashant Prakash of Quaff Theatre (Mumbai) say the play is a denuding of conventions of the whodunit genre.
It seems as if you have more or less chosen to stay true to the original version of “The Real Inspector Hound”. Given it is so popular and well known, how have you made it your own?
We picked up the play because we loved it for its very unique, astute and unabashed denuding of conventions of the whodunit genre, and the cliches this genre employs to create a mood of heightened suspense. Our production revels in exaggerating these conventions and thereby exposing them.
This play is influenced by cultural and societal upheavals of the 1960s, and its farcical humour plays off stereotypes of the age. How does “The Real Inspector Hound” work in a setting and age completely foreign to its origin?
The '60's was a period of refusing to accept what was norm, and revolutionising thinking in all aspects. Regarding crime fiction, the genre thrived on being extremely formulaic. The crime was conveniently solvable (think Agatha Christie), with perfect explanations being given by the investigator in the archetypal living room. Stoppard went against this norm, finding it too removed from reality. This route that he chose to take — it can be said — could have been due to the societal and cultural upheavals of his time. The play does contain farcical humour, but the stereotypes it plays off are universal and not so very much bound by time and space.
Your first play as Quaff Theatre, “The Skeleton Woman”, won the MetroPlus Playwright Award and showed at our Fest in 2009. This one is very different in form, genre and scale. Was it much more demanding?
“The Skeleton Woman” had a cast of two actors, and “The Real Inspector Hound” has a cast of six more. It does make this production a bigger one. More so, a cast that contains busy actors who are involved not only in other theatre productions, but films as well, made it far more demanding.
This production is grander than “The Skeleton Woman” as well. Elaborate costumes and sets make it entirely different from anything we have done before. Also here, we already had a terrific script to work with.