Theatre

Six short plays: Mirror to the world around

Real life situations provide fodder for this six-in-one drama suite by Dummies troupe

Taking a deviation from the traditional 90-120 minute one-act play, Dummies staged six small plays for the Mylapore Fine Arts Club. The stories were unrelated to each other, but all of them reflected contemporary problems and situations in today’s domestic sphere and the corporate world. The plays attempted to make us realise the quirks of life at home and work, using self-deprecating humour, without being preachy.

The first play was “Puriyadha Bhadil” — a satirical take on the recruitment process. Tips to instantly beef up one’s resume, scope to utter some untruths in the interview, and the real meaning of the cliché, “The HR will get back to you,” etc., were presented in a thoroughly entertaining fashion. This play will surely resonate well with those who find themselves in a similar situation in the job circles.

“Parapet Aasanam” dealt with a Ph.D. student, Madhan, contemplating suicide by jumping off his balcony. At a time when peer pressure is becoming too hot to handle and depression is becoming a buzzword, Madhan represents all those who are plagued with self-doubt and confusing thoughts about worthlessness.

In “Oppandham Kaiezhuthaanadhu,” again set in the corporate world, a new recruit walks into his office on his first day, unaware of the challenging work conditions and non-existent work-life balance that he will soon experience.

We returned to the home front in “Next Next Next,” the fourth play.

Next Next Next

Next Next Next   | Photo Credit: K.V. Srinivasan

A grandfather comes to visit his son and family, who are completely into online shopping, booking and payment. The senior man is initially charmed by everything being delivered for free, that too at their doorstep. But soon, the family gets a rude awakening to the pitfalls of online shopping. This play highlighted the craving for instant gratification among all of us, especially children. It ended on an amusing note where, after ‘de-addiction,’ the grandson starts using a real slate and not the iPad.

“Client Paarkum Padalam,” the fifth play, and the third to depict an office situation, was a comedy of errors.

Client Parkum Padalam

Client Parkum Padalam   | Photo Credit: K.V. Srinivasan

In an office, elaborate arrangements are being done to welcome an esteemed client, even as an employee’s engagement is taking place elsewhere. An employee mixes up the two addresses with the result, the clients go to the wedding hall, and the caterer and the nagaswaram party arrive at the office. This was, to me, the funniest of the six plays, with Prasanna giving his best in writing and acting.

The last play was ‘Minnuyir Thozhi.’ Rahul comes home from abroad for his engagement, bringing with him an Alexa. Unaware of this gizmo, Rahul’s father and neighbour listen to Alexa’s voice and get suspicious.

Minnuyir Thozhi

Minnuyir Thozhi   | Photo Credit: K.V. Srinivasan

Alexa calls herself “Rahul’s buddy,” who “sleeps when Rahul sleeps,” and who even recites Vishnu Sahasranamam “in a voice identical to that of MS Subbulakshmi.” Rahul’s father and neighbour seriously consider cancelling Rahul’s planned engagement, causing a hilarious confusion. Though not all of us are familiar with Alexa, the innovative script by Prasanna and brilliant acting by Sridhar certainly made this the audience’s favourite of the night.

The plays of Dummies Drama are generally sprinkled with humour, but there’s almost always a take-home message for the viewers too. Although ‘Parapet Aasanam’ adopted a more serious tone than the others, the cache seemed to be purely for entertainment. The quality of acting overall was top-notch with Sridhar and Sridhar Ramaswamy being my picks, the latter playing versatile roles in both domestic and corporate-themed stories.

In a conversation Prasanna Sridhar, the writer said that most of the inspiration came from his own observations at work and from tales told by others. In fact, the plot for ‘Minnuyir Thozhi’ was inspired by the voice assistant of Google Maps during a road trip. He also feels that short skits have a greater impact on today’s generation, who may not have the patience to sit through a single two-hour play. Moreover, shorter scripts expose the audience to more scenarios they can relate to in their own lives, and hence, it would be more entertaining, he said. Prasanna expressed his gratitude towards Sreevathson, calling him his guru, and that his biggest motivation was the audience that Dummies has won for themselves over the past 20 years.

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Printable version | Mar 23, 2020 6:18:00 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/theatre/six-short-plays-mirror-to-the-world-around/article29231907.ece

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