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Wide range, well balanced

"Class of 84" ... sensitive issues discussed. — Pic. by K. Pichumani

WHEN "CLASS of 84" delayed beyond a full half hour, Chennai's theatre aficionados who were at the Music Academy last week, literally applauded the lights into fading in on the play from Mumbai, written and directed by Rahul da Cunha.

Rage Productions has been entertaining Chennai for a while now with a wide range of plays. "Class of 84," however, touched a different note. It was gentle in approach, introspective and discussed sensitive issues.

Plausible plot

The plot is built around an uncomplicated but definitely plausible storyline. A group of friends from St. Xavier's College, Mumbai, meet at a beach house after 17 years. Raveena (Radhika da Cunha) who dated Jojo back in college is leading a fairly unfulfilling life, married to another of the group, Sanjay (Rituraj Singh).

Mobile phone addict Bobby (Rajit Kapur), who couldn't make it academically, is now a dressed-in-black two-bit actor. Cyrus (Sohrab Ardeshir), disinherited by his rich father, and now in sloppy beachwear and sufficiently stoned to create the lighter side of the play, runs a bar out of a shack on a Goan beach.

Rahgu (Vikrant Chaturvedi) an alumnus of FTTI is an unsuccessful filmmaker, who finds little reason to smile. The back in college, tough and outspoken journalist Sarah (Dipika Roy) is now doing well as a gossip columnist chasing the who's who of society. Then there is Fuzzy (Shernaz Patel), the spiritualist of the group, sincerely into Feng Shui and the arts of relaxation and living. And Jojo, the eighth friend is dead, in fact, just dead and therefore not around.

The friends remember Jojo and relive their fun years in college. The process nudges them into introspection. Scattered through the play, the spots pick out individuals against the blacked out stage, so that they can share with the audience what their friends have never known about them.

Then Nikki, Jojo's friend for the past two years, joins them. He is a man who knows too much. Slowly facts begin to tumble out in an uncomfortable, sometimes ugly heap. Jojo had evidently approached his friends for help and got none. Worse, he knew the not so attractive secrets in each of their lives. Nikki exposes them. The group level with each other, refracted through their sense of guilt and forced introspection.

Maybe they have learnt something from the exercise, maybe they see the road ahead a little clearer... They open the next chapter of their relationships, with a group photograph.

Competent team

Rahul da Cunha's script is well written. It has a natural flow to it and a cadence of real life dialogue you hear in particular social circles. As always he deftly mixes Hindi, English and the odd Punjabi to form his script.

Two steps and a platform upstage divided the space very skilfully into the living room and the sit out of the beach house. A few potted plants and the sound of waves lashing the shores completed the scene. It contributed much to a calm and relaxed unravelling of the script.

The "Class of 84" was a well-balanced team of actors, very competent and totally involved. There was no actor who could have upstaged another. Every actor on stage presented a personality like no other.

Again there were levels of humour targeting different sections of the audience. The range and the balance made the evening pleasant and enjoyable and was just cerebral enough to make you pause, think and take a look at the world through another's eyes, on occasions a little darkly.


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