Theatre Impresario's ‘The Virtuous Burglar' kept the audience in splits

Six actors on a small stage hooking up and hitching with each other in all possible permutations and combinations doesn't really translate into a fun evening at the theatre. Or, does it? Members of the relatively new Theatre Impresario proved at the Freemasons Hall last weekend that confusion works well if the intent is to have the audience in splits. And when the play in question is Nobel laureate Dario Fo's entertaining farce ‘The Virtuous Burglar', it helps to just sit back and enjoy the ride.

Directed by V. Balakrishnan, the play opens with a burglar — played endearingly by Amitash Pradhan — slipping into a vacant apartment through an open window. Giving up the stereotypical burglar image — that of a stubble, striped jersey, felt shoes and a black mask — for a waistcoat, a pair of cargoes that he could well load with all his loot, and gelled hair, Pradhan manages to win many hearts. “Don't disturb me when I am at work,” he pleads when Maria, his high-pitched, excitable and chronically-angered better half, calls to check on his thieving. Sunanda Raghunathan as Maria does a fabulous job playing the nagging yet love-struck wife, shouting profanities at the drop of a hat and having no qualms in calling her husband up at his workplace — the house that he has broken into.

All's well till the owner of the house, a town councillor — played admirably by S. Radhakrishnan — decides to drop in with his mistress (Weena Pradhan) and entraps the burglar. Just as the owner, is taking the burglar to task, the doorbell rings and in walks his (the house owner's) wife. Robbing a fortune now farthest from his mind, the burglar now has to play husband to the councillor's mistress to defend him from his wife. The final element of confusion arrives on stage in the form of the lover of the wife, who turns out to be the husband of the house-owner's mistress. It goes without saying that what results is a melee of husbands, wives and lovers, all playing impromptu matchmakers to save their infidel skins. The only persons not involved in the debauchery are, ironically, the burglar and his foul-mouthed wife.