Theatre

Death and his friends

A scene from 'Gallows Humour' staged at La Makkan , Banjara Hills. Photo: P.V. Sivakumar   | Photo Credit: P_V_SIVAKUMAR

The scene was set: the boulder-framed stage in the offbeat interiors of La Makaan, the whispering crowd fanning themselves, smoky trails of agarbathi washing across their faces. However, as Death takes the stage in a fervent monologue, three-quarters of what he says is lost in the insistent puttering of a series of autos outside.

Vaishali Bisht's revival of Jack Richardson's famous Gallows Humor had all the elements to succeed but the overall sensation didn't quite match up. The play itself was a strong choice – celebrated as part of the pivotal avant-garde moments in the 1960s in New York. Performed in two acts, it tells the story of four people, their needs and feelings and how these play out with each other. The first act is the story of a lawyer Walter on death row, who is sent a prostitute Lucy two hours before his scheduled death by the prison warden. The second act shows the interaction between the warden, the hangman and his wife.

Anuj Gurwara as Walter reverberated with passion and conviction, with the necessary elements of borderline fury and repression. However, his banter with Sandhya Raju (Lucy) tended to taper out, Sandhya's performance being tepid at best. Faraz Khan's monologue as Death in the beginning, before donning the role of the warden, also had a tendency to slide into the monotonous. However, Gallows Humor did its job, with Suresh Kumar as Phillip discovering the knack for spontaneous humour, playing off against Smiti Thapa as his wife.

La Makaan is an ideal spot for a play performance, with its outdoorsy environment and ability to change from a garden to a stage. However, the acoustics need a helping hand; it doesn't help a play's cause if most of its dialogues are lost on those audience members who aren't right in front of the stage.

Gallows Humor was performed on April 30 at La Makaan with a repeat performance at Taj Banjara on May 1.




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Printable version | Jul 27, 2021 3:25:34 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/theatre/Death-and-his-friends/article16300456.ece

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