There are some performances where your well-sharpened diplomacy skills come in handy. Then there are those that are like a wholesome platter of bland food. Some like these leave you not just open-mouthed, wide-eyed and in absolute awe but live with you and become a part of your being.
Chennai's growing fondness for contemporary arts (read rock music, theatre and poetry) is playing a crucial role in spurring the never-before-perceived brilliance of the young. From being a trend, it has now graduated to a culture.
Theatre Opium's “A Few Drops of Blood,” even without the excuse of first performance, had all the ingredients that will eventually take it to perfection.
What stood out was the selection and choice of adaptation of stories that dealt with dark humour, neurosis and used an abstract theme to present these. One has to do away with idealism and the human obsession with order. Sometimes, it's the blackness that prevails. And Opium, as the name suggests, was a brush with that often unexplored expression.
The first act, ‘Reckoning' by Percival Wilde, illustrated the story of a man who waits for 12 years to avenge his daughter's death. He gets her fiancé to come to him, finally, paralysing him with the truth, threatening to kill and subsequently ruining him.
Gradually the plot unfolds primarily in a dialogue-based narrative; the story touched all aspects of negative human emotions - fear, revenge, pride ... The subsequent stories had the same lining but in different contexts and backgrounds but thankfully provided some relief with humour!
Shudhdhamadhalam was the classic case of the husband and ex-lover conflict. It reiterated the notion of the woman being the root cause of all problems in the world! But what made it intriguing was the fateful meeting, of these two on the suicide bed that ultimately turns out to be an unintended death. Perhaps a subtle way of sending another message: ‘Don't mess with a woman'!
Chekhov's ‘A Tragedian Inspite of Himself' was adapted to suit more modern problems of unemployment and futile education in colloquial Tamil. Some catchy one-liners, casual talk between two long-lost friends, the nagging wife... made the third act a light- hearted entertainer. But that was not without a destructive vision.
There is a distinction between brilliant and exceptional performances. The last act deserved a standing ovation solely for its performer. Edgar Allan Poe's gothic story, ‘The Tell Tale Heart' about the narrator who insists on sanity after committing a murder is scarily neurotic, with flights of insanity.
Its lack of larger details such as the relationship between the murderer and his victim, the setting and absence of reason or logic makes it look like an event in a parallel world, devoid of humanness. The presence of the narrator on the stage was enough to send ripples across the mind. Its interpretation is purely metaphorical and enough to bring to memoryyour worst fears. The full credit of the graphic appeal and flawless dialogue delivery goes to Harish S., who convinced us of his madness!
But coming back to our world of sanity, rationality and pragmatism, I'd say kudos! This group ‘opiated' to the highs of theatrical excellence!
Niharika .M., is a II BA Literature student of Stella Maris College.