UAA re-enacted its comedy thriller, which it first staged in 1998.
Time doesn’t touch well-conceived murder mysteries — worthy attempts in the genre live on. When Y. Gee. Mahendra told me that he was reviving his suspense thriller, ‘Lights On,’ after a gap of 13 years I was curious. Staged as part of Thyaga Brahma Gana Sabha’s arts season, the play is alive and kicking because of the strong thread of suspense that remains taut till the end.
Peppered with witty barbs and comic innuendos that are typically Mahendra, the story is of film heroine turned stage actor Lalitha (Vandhana), who dies under mysterious circumstances. Writer Taiwan Santhanam (D. S. Ramachandra Rao), her lover, is the last person she calls up. The police close the case as suicide, but Santhanam believes it is murder. Producer Panjumon (Y. Gee. Mahendra), director Karmegam (Suppini), actor (Sudharshan) and second heroine Kavitha (Bobby), who are part of the drama troupe, all seem to have a motive to do away with Lalitha. Santhanam, who goes away to Mumbai after Lalitha’s death, returns to re-construct the events and nab the culprit. He informs the others that he wishes to meet them and one by one, they turn up at the venue …
After the finale you realise that the first part of opening sequence between the man handling the set properties (Kalai Ravi) and the writer is irrelevant because the segment has no bearing on the rest of the story. If it is to brief the audience about the happenings to follow, a better ploy could have been adopted. If it is only to hoodwink the audience, the attempt seems unnecessary.
Gaffes and goof-ups that are part of most stage productions were seen in ‘Lights On’ too. They only spelt out the need for more rehearsals. Yet despite the pitfalls, the play stood out for the astuteness with which the dialogue had been re-worked to make it topical, the all-pervading humour, Mahendra’s performance and Suppini’s funny takes. Not to forget, the commendable show from Sureshwar who plays the killer.
It was heartening to see a sizeable crowd at the hall. It’s time enthusiasts do their bit to encourage theatre.
A revival worth your while!