The Fabulous Adventures of Aditi and Friends had children interacting with actors, a sign that the play worked

A play that sensitises children and makes them aware of the need to be thoughtful, helpful and caring — this formed the essence of The Fabulous Adventures of Aditi and Friends. Adapted from a series of books, written by Suniti Namjoshi, Aditi and Friends…, was recently staged by Rafiki at the National Gallery of Modern Art.

Directed by theatre practitioner and facilitator Anish Victor and performed by a talented group of actors, Aditi and Friends…held the attention of the children from start to finish.

The actors paused frequently to engage the children in asking questions and commenting on their favourite characters. It was encouraging to see the children pick up the nuances. The director and actors must be given credit for this. The non-linear narrative helped the children interpret the play as they chose. So, when they were asked for suggestions to providing a solution, every child responded with enthusiasm, without fear or hesitation.

Equal attention was paid to production. The use of puppets in plastic, paper, and shadow play made the performance colourful. The use of lights using diyas, tungsten bulbs and fluorescent lamps was a unique idea too and the live music, created by the beating of a djembe and singing by the actors, created a magical atmosphere.

Aditi and her unusual group of friends: a monkey, an ant, an elephant and a dragon rescue their friend from the clutches of the Vesuvian giant. Although the friends fight against all odds to save their friend, they choose to win over the giant through compassion and understanding.

Kannada and English were skilfully combined in the script by Sunitha, making the play even more endearing. The play was adapted to present times while retaining the traditional flavour.

Life-like

The only glitch was the handling of the puppets. The actors struggled at times to manoeuvre the life-like puppets. So the tempo of the performance, at times, faltered.

Ruchi Ravindran as Goldie/Opal, Aruna Manjunath as Sybil, and Sunaina Ruth as Aditi were competent. Anuradha Shyam/ Rency Philip as Ele, the elephant and Ravindra Vijay as Siril, the ant were delightful; they were quite the favourites with the children. Ashiqa Salvan stole the show. She effortlessly moved in and out of Monji, the monkey and the Vesuvian giant, never once compromising on her emotive skills and dialogue delivery. The cast worked well together, supporting each other in evoking wonder. The joy among the children was palpable as they left the auditorium humming, “Aditi and Friends…, Aditi and Friends…”

Aditi and Friends… is at present being staged at schools. If you would like to stage it in your school or for more information call 9886474674 or write to warafiki@yahoo.com.