Theatre

Six plays, one performance

Raising the bar: Ajit Chitturi as ‘Macbeth’

Raising the bar: Ajit Chitturi as ‘Macbeth’  

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Ajit Chitturi’s “The Journey” portrays a gamut of human emotions and frailties

Those who braved the Delhi pollution this weekend to watch English theatre group thespian en’s “The Journey” at Akshara Theatre, were well rewarded for their effort. Celebrating the group’s 25th anniversary, aptly, the play is a creative compilation of mono-acts from six works of noted playwrights, staged by thespian en. “The idea is to relive the group’s history on stage,” observes Ajit Chitturi, who has adapted and performed the play.

The works brought to fore myriad characters, plots and situations, covering a wide spectrum of emotions, providing the audience an assorted fare. The adaptation was good, as the concise versions highlighted the basic plot, without diluting the finer nuances of the original. “Condensing the gist of the mega plays and transforming dialogue-based scripts into monologues was the real test,” avers Chitturi.

The performance starts with William Shakespeare’s “Macbeth”, bringing out the turmoil, guilt and paranoia of the Scottish general who assassinates his king, Duncan to usurp the throne. Chitturi’s well-delivered dialogues bring out the angst and complexes Macbeth undergoes.

Setting the tempo, “Macbeth”, is followed by Chetan Shah’s “Belle Curv”. Donning a dark suit and glasses, Chitturi plays the Don, a fixer of cricket matches, who in a matter-of-fact style expounds on why and how the illegal act came into being. Confidently seated on a chair, Chitturi’s voice and hand and finger gestures, give the audience a sense of history and evolution of rigging and betting and how it denigrated the gentleman’s game.

Continuing with the theme of cheating, Jean Paul Sartre’s “Nekrassov” sees Chitturi posing as a Soviet Interior Minister. The accent and the slow and deliberate gestures and gait create an air of suspicion and secrecy (like looking for hidden tape recorders and mics) while emphatically stressing that the swindler is a top shot official with vital information, including a list of those to be executed. Meeting directors, Chitturi’s bending forward to catch a name or repeating the surname, all convey effectually presence of other characters.

In Shreekumar Varma’s “Five”, Chitturi becomes a kingmaker. Nursing a glass of whisky, he gradually builds the image of man’s anguish on being side-lined, who stages a comeback later by creating a crisis and elaborates on his vision of a grand change in the nation.

Sartre’s “Kean”, provides Chitturi an entire gamut of emotions to portray as he essays the role of a great actor of late 1600s and early 1700s, Edmund Kean. He effectively brings out the anguish of a performer who is adored by all yet not treated as an equal by the society, not allowed to love the woman he is fond of, and is always subject to close public scrutiny. For this, Chitturi adroitly uses dramatic pauses and voice modulation, making the audience empathise with the character.

Playing the strong and violent Arjun in Timeri Murari’s “Hey, Hero!”, Chitturi depicts his struggle to mend his ways. Guided by a co-prisoner, Krishna, he asks himself, “Who am I?” The sentiments of initial disbelief by Arjun, later followed by understanding the profundity of the question, are well conveyed through a fine control of voice pitch and facial gestures.

“The Journey” ends with a fine rendering of the Roman Emperor Caligula’s character in Albert Camus play by the same name.

Challenging General Cherea, who has hatched a plot to kill him, Chitturi efficaciously depicts how Caligula challenges the General to a logical debate, convincing him to go ahead with the assassination. The actor’s sudden change from a serious demeanour to loud laughter, are well timed and show rigorous practice. Playing so many roles was tough for Chitturi. “The task of shifting in and out of one character after the other and then shift in the accents, (British, India, South Indian, etc) was challenging.”

The production was marked by efficient change of sets and stage lighting which enhanced the experience.

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Printable version | Dec 12, 2019 1:44:41 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/theatre/six-plays-one-performance/article29910284.ece

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