UAA is back with its 61st production, ‘Venkata3,' a science comedy with a message

What begins and ends as a slapstick fare of sorts, comes with a message sandwiched in palatable doses. This significant aspect evident in UAA's latest offering, ‘Venkata3,' inaugurated this past week, provides food for thought. ‘Venkata3' isn't a flippant treatment of a scientific truth. The incidents that lead to the protagonist's excitement at having a couple of clones around to complete his tasks for him do sound a little trivial but the point he drives home isn't.

Venkatdri (Y.Gee.Mahendra), who is employed as a clerk in a firm, is also a scriptwriter of television serials. He finds straddling twin jobs and tackling the home front all at the same time, tough to handle and seeks his uncle Prof. Thothathri's (‘Chitralaya' Sriram) help. The professor, who is a scientist, creates two human clones, Venkata1 and Venkata2 – one to serve in the office and the other to be a soap writer. A slight confusion in the creation results in one of the clones being effeminate and the other facing a slight speech impairment. But is Venkatadri happy now?

Playing three roles

It isn't easy to play three very different roles on stage. But Mahendra, the veteran that he is, does it with panache. J. Subramanian always adds pep to his roles. In ‘Venkata3' he plays a not-too-astute doc and once again acts out his part effortlessly. Gopal, who plays the role of Raghavan, makes you laugh even while sporting a serious countenance and proves to be another plus of ‘Venkata3.' His decibel level may be unnecessarily high, yet R. Balaji (Viswanathan, the boss of Venkatadri) tickles the funny bone. As a whole the male actors in UAA are more spontaneous than their female counterparts. Brinda is a tad too loud, literally. But in looks, reactions and intonation Padmasri who plays Venkata's wife Chitra is natural.

Theatre goers can be granted with some amount of acumen -- witty one-liners, innuendos and wordplay needn't be too pronounced as over-emphasis affects the impact at times. Story and script writer ‘Chitralaya' Sriram invests each character in ‘Venkata3' with a certain amount of uniqueness, which helps you remember all of them for long.

With minimum props and backdrop gimmickry UAA tries to provide the right milieu. Probably with more encouragement and support Tamil theatre groups can give the audience plausible and realistic sets.

‘Venkata3,' UAA's 61st production, exemplifies a rarely attempted genre in Tamil theatre – science comedy – and acquits itself quite well.