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Rejuvenating a relationship

"A Temporary Matter" ... neatly choreographed.

IT WAS Natak which helped Nikhila Kesavan towards theatre. That was just a couple of yeas ago. Early this week she presented before a very full house at the Alliance Francaise ``A Temporary Matter," adapted directed and enacted by her. Nikhila's script is an adaptation of one of Jhumpa Lahiri's short stories and it gets noticed for its smooth and naturalistic dialogue — just the kind you would hear in an English speaking middle class home. The theme seemingly mundane, unexciting and ``sentimental girl thing" actually looks into a serious issue that many marriages have to cope with. Somewhere down time for no apparent reason husband and wife take their relationship for granted. Sharing goes out the window and the marriage turns anaemic. A conscious reopening of dialogue and a dive into the collective past may sometimes put the relationship back on track.

Siddharth (Tejas Sreedhar) has taken time off from teaching to finish his research and enjoys keeping house. Shobha (Nikhila Kesavan) works late to minimise her time at home. Both harbour a sense of guilt and failure. The chasm caused by a stillborn child is widening. Electricity power shut down every evening leads to a game of sharing of secrets before lighted candles. The last game touches a chord somewhere and maybe it is possible to light candles even when there is no electricity shut down.

The production gets noticed for its neatness, for its eye for detail and for its sense of space and levels. It stands out for a brilliant lighting design from R. V. Ramani, a good background score and neat choreography particularly at the dining table. In Tejas Sridhar Chennai recognised a very fine actor who could communicate, in subdued tones, the complexity of the situation and the confusions in his mind.

The extremely short and numerous scenes weakened both the script and the production. Black outs betweens scenes made the audience uncomfortable. There is art in keeping the stage lit no matter at what levels and within that managing both lighting design and scene shifts.

The dance went into real time testing the patience of the audience.

The video production (again from Ramani), in itself a well-done piece of work turned out a bit of an over kill. Mixing of too many mediums can sometimes be risky. There was also a problem of low energy which in turn slowed down the pace of the play.

Far outweighing these pointers is Nikhila's approach to the production and an obvious respect for her audience. Her sense of commitment to Theatre, her rallying of support from the better hands in the city and her hard work are what one looks for in the young. In addition when they enjoy the backing and support of the Madras Players the only option is to feel energised into more daring ventures.


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