Math hysteria


Square Root of Minus One proves why going to the principal’s office can be a comic affair

After staging Mahesh Dattani’s Dance Like a Man in January this year, Vikram Dhanasekar of DJ’s Ensomneacks was on the lookout for something different. “I wanted an Indian comedy. While talking to our mentor, V Balakrishnan, I mentioned this, and he mentioned a really funny play he had read a while back,” recalls Dhanasekar, who founded the homegrown theatre company.

The script in question was Square Root of Minus One, by playwright Ram Ganesh Kamatham. It follows the series of events that takes place in the principal’s office of a school called St Bartholomew’s. The seven-member cast includes Sreevathsav Chandrasekar, Udaya Reddy and Anand Ram.

Math hysteria

“There are a lot of crazy and confusing situations that come up, as well as surprising characters that turn up out of nowhere,” he says, adding that although the play was written in 2002, it still rings true today. “We did not have to change anything. We think it has the potential to connect with Chennai audiences with the original humour.”

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The Ensomneacks troupe is no stranger to comedies — their earlier performances include Don’t Dress for Dinner by Marc Camoletti and Funny Money by Ray Cooney. Most recently, they staged an original script by Dhanasekar, titled Tamil Cinema Atrocities, which was a parody of cliched tropes in Kollywood.

He says it is imperative to stage more Indian scripts. “There are a lot of comedies set in France or London, and no matter how much we try, it will always look a bit artificial when we play these roles. We want to produce authentic, original stories, featuring Indian characters played by Indian actors,” he explains.

Scripting the stage

He adds that many theatre companies are not aware of indigenous scriptwriters. “Everyone knows Mahesh Dattani and Girish Karnad. But we also need to keep looking for and encouraging new work,” says Dhanasekar, who wrote his first script for Short+Sweet South India a few years ago.

With this year’s edition coming up, he says, “Everyone in the theatre fraternity gets quite excited for this four-week event. Most people see it as a beautiful platform for actors and directors. But it’s also a great place for writers to experiment and challenge themselves, and get their work showcased.”

As for the Ensomneack’s next production, he says they have a few scripts in mind, but for now, they “are focussing on bringing laughs now. There’s time to plan once this weekend is done.”

The show takes place today at 4 pm and 7 pm at Alliance Française of Madras. Tickets at ₹250 available now on 9952995828

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Printable version | Jan 28, 2020 6:15:14 PM |

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