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Delightful community effort

"Good Heavens" ... thoroughly entertaining — Pic. by V. Ganesan

ANGLO INDIANS love to celebrateeverything. It was exactly this that Beatrix D'Souza cashed in on when last year she launched `Theatre 47' in Chennai, to celebrate the World Anglo Indian Day and to commemorate the parliament's decision to recognise Eurasians as Anglo Indians and to give them the status of one of India's communities with rights and representation.

The forum of Anglo India Women (which Beatrix D'Souza leads) and the international magazine for Anglo Indians, `Anglos In The Wind,' jointly sponsored and presented a two-day celebration. `Theatre 47' was a part of that. There were some Anglo Indians on the cast. The rest of them were students from the Madras University. They played to a half empty hall.

Last weekend at the Museum Theatre it was a quantum leap for `Theatre 47.'

The production was presented by `Anglos In The Wind.' The play "Good Heavens" was written by Harry MacLure, the magazine's editor. He said, "Good Heavens" is a light hearted situational comedy that has elements of a musical, tragedy, farce, fantasy and pantomime."

The play is really about a good, kind and generous heaven, and about earth where the wicked are really not all that wicked or bad. Charley Boy Gomez, (Ricardo Brass), an actor, dies in Chennai. There is a stop over en route to heaven where he meets his guide and guardian angel Angeline Heavens (Nicola Jeremiah). Love happens even though these emotions are not acceptable in the afterlife. Barbwire (Suzanne Stevenage) comes up from hell to throw a spoke in the wheel. She assigns Hot Kutty (Neesha Johnson) who can sing and dance and lure away Charley Boy. The cat burglars (David Pacheco and Reuben Quental), also from Chennai, reach that somewhere land between Earth and Heaven and Hell along with six school kids who die in an auto accident on Mount Road.

But then it is good heavens and they are all given a second chance. Even Angeline is sent down to meet Charley Boy on the sets of Good Heavens where love happens all over again! The play was directed by Russel Stevenage who enjoys a reputation for being a fine actor and who always brings his best to the role he plays. He gave "Good Heavens" the same shot. Russel put the play in perspective — an uncomplicated play, meant to entertain the old and young alike. He made sure it was as low budget as could be, without compromising on the final effect, since the production was a fund raiser for the less privileged Anglo Indian students in the city. The in between space in the firmament was very charmingly done up with puffs of clouds, even two lovely little moving clouds — Liv and Trilysa. He gave his cast very sound training. Ricardo Brass carried a major chunk of the script and did a very good job and showed much potential.

Nicola and Suzanne were a perfect foil for each other and impressed with their sense of confidence and ease on stage. The audience thoroughly enjoyed the comic act from Pacheco and Quental and some lovely dancing from Neesha.

There were no flaws, no gaps in the production. Though the songs and dances in themselves were well done and enjoyable they didn't quite form part of the flow of the play. They came on rather abruptly like rude interruptions. But the audience was very appreciative all the same and the young and the old enjoyed the evening.

What was special about the evening was that it was an exclusively community effort all the way. There was a delightful undercurrent of bonding and unconditional support. It would be a good thing for `Theatre 47' to build on this strength and in the next few productions, to try issue based plays that could draw the community into discussion.

The complementary copy of the `Anglos In The Wind,' that the audience were given at the end, not only made interesting reading, it also opened a window on a community (now scattered around the world), its history and its unique culture.


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