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CATHERINE RHEA ROY
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REVIEW Gentlemen, a series of caricatures written and directed by Anil Abraham, was executed to perfection

TALKING OF OBSESSIONS…The actors carried the play on their shoulders
TALKING OF OBSESSIONS…The actors carried the play on their shoulders

Awholesome voice welcomed us to the play, warned us of mature content, and then encouraged us to sit back and enjoy the show.

“Gentleman”, a play that has been described as “a hilarious take on men's obsession with their phalluses,” I was wary and expected the worst, minutes later I was laughing the loudest.

“Hello, Hello, mister Romeo, naatil very, very, romantic sir,” sang a trashy Malayalam song from the 90s, as Chacko, a techie, essayed by Ashvin Mathew, came on stage wielding a crystal cut glass of scotch and every apprehension I had of this play went flying out of the fire escape. The role was caricatured and executed to perfection as the Malayali Syrian Christian who speaks English peppered with enough Malayalam at appropriate junctures, and sufficient references to his ‘Mohanlal' and the superstar Mohanlal. Chacko is getting married to the woman his ammachi chose, and while that is the promise of sex without intelligent conversation, the threat of impotence looms like kryptonite.

Written and directed by Anil Abraham and presented by Goblin Productions the play is essentially five monologues by men from different walks, ethnic backgrounds and who have been exposed to different ideas, and had different upbringing.

The second monologue was Shailesh, a college student and he takes us through the excruciating pains of growing up and growing a pair. Played by Rajeev Ravindranathan, the character did not have the best lines; the desperation of adolescence fit him like a sack — lumpy and out of shape. But then he makes up for it the wide-eyed loss of innocence with the thrill of finding his God in Dr. Kothari.

Anil proved his credibility as a playwright with Shoiab, the character that was brought to life flawlessly by Ajith Hande. The barber, who we presume works in Shivajinagar, speaks that local language, which uniquely blends Urdu and Kannada. And Hande as the barber is a rip-roaring ball of fun. He is loud, confident about being crass and does not beat around the bush, or maybe he does. Ramalingam urinates into a bag, is ignored by his family, misses his late wife and begins to recount all those times he took life for granted, sometimes with regret. Anil becomes the bitter grandfather who only wishes he could urinate like he used to, without a care in the world and finds solace in gyrating Bollywood.

But kicking all these fine gentlemen out of the field is Vyjayanthi, who is everybody's next door neighbour. Loud and over the top, you love her and the holige she prepares. RJ Shraddha brings to life the opinions, concerns and fears of women and she does it in style. All those jokes that are exchanged at girls' night out, is now a published monologue.

Makes one wonder how Anil Abraham found out? Rape, female infanticide, pain and priorities — Vyjayanthi addresses it all and speaks as a representative of women and I trust her with the responsibility.

The play has finished its run at the Alliance Francaise, but if you want to host a show, call 9845047609.

CATHERINE RHEA ROY

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