Theatre

The smell of dissonance

IN A NEW LIGHT: Vidushi Mehra flanked by Samar Sarila and Danish Sood  

David Hare’s critically acclaimed play “Skylight” (1995) has widely been perceived as a political commentary on conflicting ideologies. Debates on gender, capitalism, family and accountability pervade the fabric of conversation between the leading protagonists, highlighting the enmeshed nature of personal and political space. Propelled by the creative duo of Vidushi Mehra (producer and actor) and Samar Sarila (actor), the play saw its first Indian revival at Oddbird Theatre and Foundation as it attempted to bring the Indian audience closer to this iconic play. Director Deepa Dharmadhikari remains true to the stage directions and recreates the aura of the play that straddles private complacency and political ambitions. Elaborating on its contextual relevance, she states, “The play uses the tensions between free market capitalism and pro-labour socialism as a backdrop to a romantic relationship. This is a topic that has grown and not reduced overtime with its social implications evident even today. That’s relevant in most societies, certainly to India right now.”

Relationships form the crux of the play where the larger themes play out. In a play that largely relies on body language and unspoken utterances, the lead actors portray the tension with comfortable ease. Regarding the Tom-Kyra relationship, Deepa observes, “I think what strikes me the most is the tensions that build between them and how these arise out of the patriarchy and heterocentricism evidently shaping romantic relationships in our society.” In the lingering touches, strategic pauses and sporadic outbursts, the audience witnesses the leitmotif of the play – two individuals torn apart by opposing views but united by mutual desire for each other. Samar is convincing as the right wing, capitalist patriarch Tom Sergeant who is caught up in his class order. Pacing the area of the stage in swift, contemplative strokes – he invokes the air of the self-righteous character who disregards other perspectives and forgets his driver waiting in the snow. Vidushi's portrayal of Kyra balances meek tenderness and firm resolution that explodes into an impassioned speech in the last act. In perhaps the best monologue of the play, Vidushi as Kyra delivers the angst of a character who has been living on the margins due to the current social order that denies people from living their full potential.

But the most striking part of the play remains its sensory indulgence. The smell of roasted onions and garlic permeates the air as Kyra prepares supper. We can hear the whistle of the tea kettle and see the simmering steam above the boiling spaghetti. The stage is set with a bookshelf, sofa, kitchen and mirror cramped into one space. The setting heightens the claustrophobia of the situation with the frequent visits by the father-son, the snow covering her house, implying the frequent interruptions of the outside world into Kyra’s personal space. The ambience of the venue played a huge part in the surreal quality of the play. The late night winter chill, high arches and aesthetic lighting lent a relaxed, intimate backdrop to the play. With clever use of lighting and sparse music, the director has rendered the play free of external influences and kept the setting to speak for itself. The play largely relies on non-verbal communication and insightful dialogue and requires a nuanced understanding of love and politics. Highlighting the intended target audience of the play, Deepa states, “People who enjoy strong and impactful theatre and enjoy a well-written script that they can relate in some way or another. Also, anyone who enjoys engaging in intellectual debates that form a part of any courtship ritual.”


Our code of editorial values

Related Topics
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Jul 29, 2021 5:12:51 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/theatre/The-smell-of-dissonance/article16832583.ece

Next Story