‘Che Guevara’, an adaptation of Italian playwright Mario Fratti’s eponymous play, chronicles the last phase of the revolutionary’s life.

“Hunger cannot wait,” was Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara’s response to his would-be assassins. This aptly sums up the message of the play ‘Che Guevara’ to a contemporary audience. And that, in a sense, is a universal message. Perhaps, this universality explains why the Argentian revolutionary Che Guevara’s life (1928-1967) continues to inspire people all over the world. The staging of an adaptation of Italian playwright Mario Fratti’s eponymous play at the M.D. Ramanathan Hall in Palakkad elicited a response that was reassuring to those who have, in recent years, been successfully reviving a theatre culture in the town.

The plot of the play revolves round the last phase of Che’s life, focussing on the most crucial phase in his career – his fleeing from Cuba, efforts to mobilise native American Indians in Bolivia, and finally his end at the hands of the Bolivian Special Forces.

The play, albeit centred on the incidents involving the revolution in Bolivia, looks at the very basis and the logic of organising a revolution. As Che reminds his colleagues, “We are fighting [against the Bolivian government supported by the United States] for a society rooted in love.”

Director K.A. Nandajan’s treatment of the plot has done justice to the vision of the playwright, who had always insisted on clearly communicating a message to the audience. “There are a lot of ingredients in the staged version through which the play communicates to the contemporary audience in Kerala. It is not necessary that we stage the entire text of the play because that may require at least a minimum of six hours,” says Nandajan.

The revolutionary is portrayed in the play as one who is fighting against the enslavement of native American Indians across Latin America. In fact, the unjust treatment of the landless, hunger for power and brutality of the police in our own land can be noticed in the play. “That is not accidental,” says Nandajan, adding that our own society too has to be reminded of certain undesirable tendencies.

The play has sequences about his romantic relationship with Tanya, who is portrayed as a courageous woman with a vision of the goals of revolution, the importance of a leader in a revolution and also the fate that awaits most revolutionaries. Che too is aware of the tactical role that women could perform in a revolution.

Nandajan’s play was able to show how Che was wedded to the revolution to the last, as were his comrades. Che’s last moments, with his disarming smile touching the hearts of even the soldiers, was beautifully captured.

Of course, there were some technical lapses, including loss of clarity in the dialogues delivered. Rahman Kongad’s lighting was effective, though there were complaints that the expressions of the characters were not visible. “Then again, darkness itself is a character in the play, which deals with a story on the life of a guerrilla warrior,” explains Nandajan. Mario Fratti’s play has been effortlessly translated into Malayalam by Ramachandran Mokeri without losing its essence. Jinesh (as Che) essayed the role of Che. It was produced by R. K. Manisankar. The play was presented by Tripti Arts Palakkad.