Shraddha falls short of expectations.

Shraddha presented adaptations of short stories as its theatre offering this time. A set of three plays, based on three different short stories, was presented last week at the Narada Gana Sabha hall, Chennai. They were staged for four days under the auspices of a different sabha each day. ‘Nambikkai’ or faith was the common theme uniting the three plays.

‘Madineruppu’ is about three elderly friends, who invest their savings - and their dreams - in building adjoining houses. When one of them, Masilamani (Kathadi Ramamurthy), is murdered, the other two, Sadasivan (V. Ramesh) and Sivasankaran (T.D. Sundararajan) are terrified. Sadasivan suspects the building mafia of doing away with Masilamani, who defied the agent. He succumbs to the pressure of selling his house and advises Sivasankaran to do the same. The latter, whose son and daughter live in cities far away, is reduced to a state of trauma before finally giving up his house.

Dialogue-ridden

The first play had a much better tempo than the other two, though it was dialogue-ridden. The actors conveyed the feeling of anger and terror, but sometimes in excess. Ramesh’s expressions were exaggerated. The make-up did not pass muster. The make up of the builder’s henchman, played by Shivaji Chaturvedi, screamed “villain,” while the beard of the visitor in the last scene was obviously a fake.

The second play, ‘Andarangam’ failed to be invested with the rich layers and the psychological shades that are needed to make such a theme gripping and intense. The script dealt with the missing element of trust between a young couple. The wife (Kavitha), who sends her husband (Swaminathan) an e-mail by mistake, tries to persuade and coax him into deleting it without divulging its contents. The ‘power dressing’ of the heroine was impressive, but she didn’t seem to get into the role fully and the play never rose above just a dialogue. The pauses were awkward and the voices did not carry in the initial portions.

The last play, ‘Irandavuthu Maranam’ was redeemed by the ending – the miraculous impact that faith and love can have on one’s will to live. The story wove an appealing picture of a son’s rather obsessive love for his father. But the plot was taken further through the usual developments as the hero, devoted to his brain-dead father, runs out of the support of his family and money. His friends lose interest and his boss, patience.

The play’s progress was painfully slow and the viewer’s patience was tested. Girish, who played the son, immersed himself totally in the role and Suchitra, as his wife, was natural. But in the narrative parts, the voice could not be heard clearly.

The production values that distinguish Shraddha’s plays were glaringly absent. Music and lights could not compensate for this loss. The sets were meagre and the plays lacked freshness.

The short stories could as well be read for there were few theatre elements to transform them. Shraddha’s choice was far off the mark this time. The satiety and fullness provided by the earlier productions of the group were lacking. These were the sort of plays one might have witnessed in a college festival in the past. Given such scripts, the direction too never rose above the mediocre. One expects much better from Shraddha and from the writer who bowled a ‘Doosra’ for the group through his play not so long ago.