The humour-laden dialogue was the strength of `Anything But Love.'
A divorced couple run into each other. For old time's sake they decide to have a drink and that triggers a whole lot of emotions. Raell Padamsee's English play, ``Anything But Love," by Ace Productions, directed by Vikranth Pawar, was brought to Chennai by Media Mix at the Music Academy this past weekend. Mandira Bedi and Samir Soni were the only two characters present on stage to take this dialogue-oriented play forward. Elegant costumes by Satya Paul for Mandira, and Reid and Taylor for Samir enhanced the glamour quotient of this `purely for adults' play.
While not exactly loud, the dialogue wasn't really subtle either. The humour was cleverly couched, so much so that a serious subject as `emotional needs in an institution of marriage' was presented in a lighter vein. Aneesh (Samir) and Seema (Mandira) end up discussing everything about their married life — ecstasies, expectations, ego climbs, outbursts, children, adultery, betrayal, gay psychiatrists, etc. It is while they re-discover that they still have `feelings' for each other that Seema decides to dump her present husband Shekhar. Apart from some intimate moments and the occasional foreign tours, their relationship, is full of hostility. Reality stares Seema in the face when she discovers that she is pregnant with Shekhar's child. Aneesh, who revels in small-time flirting, is in no mood for a reunion whereas Seema resolves to get back to her husband. The fall out of divorce and the feelings of the estranged couple have always served as themes for stage and celluloid productions. Only, director Vikranth in `Anything but Love' has concentrated on the protagonists without taking the other characters into account. Not even Shekhar, Seema's husband. But then, it was obvious from the outset that the play had no lofty pretensions. Raising laughter with crunchy lines was clearly the agenda and it was accomplished. It was just a time-pass masala, laced with light-hearted humour. The audience loved it when Aneesh reeled off questions making an exasperated Seema retort, ``Why do you always answer a question with another question?" The monologues with the psychiatrists, the contrasting viewpoints of man and woman about a marriage on the rocks offered some enjoyable scenes. Another factor indeed worth mentioning was the pleasing music, introduced at the right time, with the right lyrics.