"Double Deal" with Mahesh Manjrekar and Sandhya Mridul, engaged the audience till the endIt was a double deal for the audience too at Hotel ITC Park Sheraton recently. First, they were getting to be part of Madras West Round Table 10's project of funding a dialysis a day for TANKER Foundation till 2007. And, they were also getting to see a terrific Mahesh Manjrekar and a sassy Sandhya Mridul on stage, in a dark, riveting thriller about two strangers and a fateful, stormy night."Double Deal", directed and adapted from Richard Stockwell's "Killing Time" by Mahesh Dattani, has to be among the most violent plays we've seen in the city. It intrigues you right from the start with the director setting the mood for a suspenseful evening with smart use of light and sound. As the strangers walk in to the house and get to know each other, you discover things about them, their past and their dark side, just as they do. So throughout the play, you know only as much about the other as they do. This helps to keep you engaged as the plot unfolds through dialogue laced with dark humour, slowly and cleverly, that you hardly realise there are only two actors talking through over 90 minutes (split by a longish break) of stage time.
Rising to the roleBut for the distractions caused by annoying ring tones, the actors sailed through their lines quite comfortably, Manjrekar with his subtlety and Sandhya looking appropriately vulnerable.Manjrekar punctuates all the underplaying with bursts of maniacal energy and Sandhya manages to hold her own all through in her stage debut, with a nervous intensity that brought out the sexual tension between them. The anxiety, the insecurity, the distrust and the rising tension between the two reaches its peak with a gripping climax, worthy of a movie remake. The spoken English was refreshingly natural, with Mumbai providing the backdrop for the revenge tale laden with twists and turns, till the very end. The fundraiser was held to create awareness on the need to create a corpus that will fund the poor who cannot afford dialysis. "In India, because of diabetes, kidney failures are on the rise. Since the poor are not offered dialysis, Round Table members decided to float a corpus to provide them with the best treatment," a MWRT spokesperson told the audience before the play.SUDHISH KAMATH