Three days of excellent theatre as The Hindu MetroPlus Theatre Fest 2012 comes to Kochi once more

Tears and laughter, history and fantasy, drama and farce – the heady mix that is The Hindu MetroPlus Theatre Fest is ready to visit Kochi again. As before, we scoured the country’s talents and picked some of the best productions and best drama groups to give you three days of excellent entertainment.

Launched in 2005 in Chennai, the Fest has grown to become a calendar event across five cities, with shows in Kochi, Hyderabad, Bangalore and Coimbatore as well. In the last seven years, the fest has brought in a wide range of plays from across the world, from countries such as Germany, the U.S., Korea, Singapore and Sri Lanka, for Indian audiences. This year, for the first time, a West End production from London will come to the Chennai edition of the Fest.

The line-up

This year, the line-up for Kochi has two excellent and well-loved plays from Mumbai, while the third play on Tipu Sultan is an ambitious production from Bangalore based on a script written by Girish Karnad.

Launching the fest on August 3 is Bombay Talkies by the Mumbai-based Orchid Room Experiment. Served up as a series of eight dramatic monologues, the play is a slice of Mumbai life as seen through these eight individuals, their pain and sorrow, their memories, desires, fears and hopes. Written and directed by Vikram Kapadia, the play follows the broad format of films like Life in a Metro or Paris Je T’aime, where the city is celebrated through the protagonists and their struggles and successes. Mumbai, with its multitudes, its chaos, its dreams and rude awakenings becomes the perfect backdrop for such a script. The Orchid Room Experiment is a new performance group started for theatre, events and workshops by Zafar Karachiwala and Devika Shahani Punjabi in Mumbai.

Next up on August 4 is Jagriti from Bangalore with The Dreams of Tipu Sultan, a powerful presentation of unexplored facets of Tipu Sultan’s character, as it emerges from a secret diary he maintained of his dreams. Scripted by Girish Karnad, the play seeks to go beyond the popular image of Tipu as a warrior and rebel, and draws out Tipu the man, the visionary, the scientist and dreamer. Jagriti was founded by Arundhati and Jagdish Raja and is a theatre group built around the eponymous performance space in Whitefield.

Finally, we have for you Akvarious Productions’ The Interview. The winner of four Mahindra Excellence in Theatre Awards, including honours for the Best Play and Best Actor, The Interview is directed by Akarsh Khurana and is set in an apparently ordinary corporate milieu with a candidate nervously awaiting his turn to be called in for a job interview. From this seemingly normal setting, the play rapidly transforms into a darkly comic exploration of the bizarre and the uncomfortable, with an unexpected ending that leaves the audience gasping. Akvarious Productions was founded in Mumbai by Akash Khurana in the early 90s, and is now spearheaded by his son Akarsh.

The plays will be staged at the Kerala Fine Arts Hall, Fine Arts Avenue. All shows start at 7.30 p.m.