Matthew Sharp brought five characters to life through effective use of voice, expressions, music and light in ‘Johnny's Midnight Goggles’.
The stage darkens; a single light highlights a chair, a coat and a cello. Matthew Sharp appears and the narration of ‘Johnny's Midnight Goggles' begins.
It starts with Matthew narrating the story of a man who has been driving down the same road from work for the last 40 years. Today, at a junction, he notices a small path. He has never noticed it before. He stops his car and gets out. The pull of the alley is strong. He takes it and then…. the commentary comes to a stop.
A fantastical realm
The scene shifts and from behind the cello, Matthew becomes the main character of the story – the narrator. And he begins the story of his journey into Takrilakastan, a greenish dimension that co-exists in the space taken up in our world by La Lavandou in Southern France, to rescue Johnny, the owner of a goggle that is a portal into this fantastical realm. Apart from rescuing Johnny, the narrator, has to also save the world from enslavement.
But it is not just the narrator on stage. Johnny, Dulang Dulang, Delores, Berzendoff and the turtle man all come on stage, courtesy Matthew who uses changes of voice and expressions to bring out virtuoso performances of these characters. Music (by Matthew on the cello) too helped build up the scenes. The scene where the narrator is being chased by a turtle man is especially noteworthy as the music builds up the pressure. Effective use of lights too helped create the right ambience.
Among the characters, Delores, a transvestite cabaret artiste, is a favourite. She climbs on to the laps of two unsuspecting male members of the audience soothing the narrator's fears. Delores infuses a touch of humour when she sings “Bear with me darling,” and “Sorry, I know I smell” to the duo.
The opening scene involving the worker driving home in his car is replayed at the end, binding the piece together.
A music concert follows ‘Johnny's Midnight Goggles.' Matthew plays a piece composed by renowned musician Devissaro especially for the event. That music can tell a tale is unfolded in this untitled piece. One feels the joy, pain and ray of hope in the end as the cellist plays the composition.
Following Matthew's solo recital there is a group performance with Matthew on the cello, Sameer on the flute, Tao Issaro on percussion and Yakson on the keyboard. The music, original compositions written by the group in just three days can be best described as fusion.
Although all three pieces receives applause, a favourite amongst the crowd is ‘Deserted coastline.' Not only did the music recreate the feel of the rain but the jugalbandi of sorts between Matthew and Sameer on their musical instruments and Tao, who claps himself on his body to create music, is intoxicating.
The programme held at the koothambalam at Vyloppilly Samskriti Bhavan, Thiruvananthapuram, was organised by the British Council.