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Beethoven in snippets

"Sounds of Silence" ... enjoyable music. — Pic. by S. R. Raghunathan.

KALYANMAYEE IS the women's welfare association of the Airports Authority of India and from time to time they take up cultural and social activities.

"Sounds of Silence," a play produced and directed by Stagefright at Music Academy recently was a Kalyanmayee event, which raised funds for the needy.

The play, scripted by Roshan Treasurywala, president of Kalyanmayee's Chennai unit, is built around the life of Ludwig van Beethoven (T. T. Srinath).

The play begins at the time the composer was convalescing in his brother's (Shankar Sundaram) house. One sees the man for the most part confined to his bed and cared for by his nephew Karl (Satwick Saraswathi).

The two look through an album of photographs. Association of memories bring up incidents from his life. One encounters Beethoven when nine years old (Dhruba Basu), and later Tejas Sreedhar plays the maestro growing into middle age. The script did not explore the mind of the man as a work in progress. Neither did it deal with his music. Consequently, the play was a series of snippets pieced together by Director Freddy Koikaran in the best way he could. Koikaran, whose strength lies in music, must have felt the constraint. But whatever music he put together both as overture and as background score for choreography was charged and most enjoyable. Koikaran also brought together a team of Chennai's better actors.

Unfortunately the script did not offer them the space to evolve the characters and what little space they had was drowned in the ranting and raving and groaning and drunken shouting. It was particularly so in the case of Srinath, Indrani Krishnaier (Therese, the sister-in-law) and Beethoven's father (Solomon Porres). Tejas Sreedhar, who had the longest period on stage, turned in a subdued and fairly sensitive performance. The other near-cameo performances came in from Alaphia Zoyab (as the mother), R. Sundar, Faheem Moosa and Vidyuth Sreenivasan.

Denver Nicholas is a dancer who has music in his body and it is a pleasure to watch him interpret the music he hears. One could not help wondering what it would have done to the play if Koikaran had him on stage throughout, dancing out the creative mind of Beethoven and the movements in his music.

Though the group dances were well choreographed, the female dancers were just not able to dance from within or keep time.

The stage was functional and well used and had interesting set designs from Jacob Jebaraj, particularly in the latter half when the flats carried images textured in fragile snowflakes, human figures crouching in agony and isolation. The costumes from Shalini Shankar, Roshni Menon and Neesha Koikaran were well researched and authentic.


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