The MacTrics’ Mime Theatre Festival showcased short productions by city colleges, corporates and theatre groups that captured different aspects of life

Any theatre festival is not complete without fleeting references to social issues or mythology. The first day of the three-day Mime Theatre Festival checked both on the list. Presented by Brahma Gana Sabha and powered by mime theatre group MacTrics, the festival showcased 20-minute plays by three city colleges.

Loyola College, whose play was on the Life of A Comedian attempted something different, even if they did bring in the social angle. The story was of a popular magician and humorist, whose son sees ‘humour’ differently. He trips people who walk about in school and even pokes his teacher with a sharp object. Disturbed, the humourist tells his son that teasing women or laughing at the differently-abled or even forcing someone to consume alcohol is not humour. The father then dies of a heart attack and the audience no longer smile. How the son dons his father’s hat and brought the smile back on the audience’s face constituted the rest of the story.

The play, which ended well on time, had a few things going for it. One of the scenes had the father performing with a mannequin (it’s very reminiscent of Charlie Chaplin’s style) that has to be unsteady and fall flat every time he lets go of it. The actor playing this mannequin fell like a pro, with no knee-buckling or sudden movements. Another scene that was played out well was the usage of neon gloves and balls in the dark for the magic show. What, however, was disappointing was the lack of mime formations, barring a swivelling door that everyone was walking in and out of.

The brochure said that Ethiraj College for Women are performing a play on Feminism but according to the compere it was Woman. Either way, the play was a tribute to the women of today and the tumultuous past they have overcome. The play goes back to the days when various social evils were practised on women.

The scenes were pretty graphic; whether it was a groom’s family stopping a wedding and making unreasonable demands (which culminates in the girl hanging herself) or a newly-widowed woman pushed into the funeral pyre of her husband. It then slowly evolved into women fighting for their rights and triumphing over their tormentors. While the premise of the play was promising, what it lacked perhaps was a sense of direction. Also, the play itself succumbed to social clichés and didn’t explore the topic too deeply. There are perhaps more current issues to address than sati. That said, the dowry death scenes were pretty poignant.

Where the play did get things right, was in the way these events were portrayed. The funeral pyre scene was well done as were the scenes where the man holds the reins to all the women. Towards the end, the actors even portrayed how women were doing well, pretty humorously. A fencing match that ended with a woman stabbing her opponent by mistake, or the scene with slow-motion boxing were entertaining. Even 10 women who excelled in different fields coming together as Kali drove the message clearly.

The best performance of the evening came from Sriram Engineering College, who performed Modern Ramayana, where a grandfather sits his grandson down after a puja in a temple and tells him the story. The play, however, was a tad too long.

The story began with Sita’s swayamvar and fast forwarded through the story of the Ramayana. The more entertaining scenes here were the swayamvar scenes, and the one where Ram brings Sita to the Ayodhya palace. The formation of the Palace was well done, with the palace moving nearer as Rama walked towards it. Other formations that are worth a mention are the pushpak viman and a helicopter that Hanuman uses to fly to Lanka! The casting was almost perfect. Kumbakarna, his giant size portrayed by one boy sitting atop another, was a good idea too.

The plot was kept intact except for a few modern frills to fast track to the end with a Tamil narration voicing out at times to give direction to the story.