Guarded secrets

Impressive settings: Back to the past.  

How do you judge theatre? Is there an absolute standard? There are multiple aspects that determine this, of course: the performers, the script, the lights, the props, the costume, realism. While a performance strives to encompass all these, each one individually in perfection still strikes us.

Brilliant elements

Theatre Nisha's latest production “The Nine Unknown Men” had elements of brilliance and it is best to judge these separately. It would be completely fair to emphasise the stage setting: a small space surrounded on all four sides by the audience with the most basic lighting. What was also impressive was the use of lit lamps and fire in the most extraordinary ways. Live music, costumes and language were the other highly appreciable factors. The impact of all these brought about an ethereal feel to the play and reflected (it seemed) the times before us.

Too dense

However, the story itself was incomprehensible at many levels; the use of multiple languages adding to that. The play draws from history, mythology, philosophy, science and other multiple disciplines, talking of a secret cult formed before the world as we know it.

The group- “The Nine Unknown Men” was the most powerful secret society on earth. It was reformed by Asoka the Great, and the primary aim was to protect the misuse of knowledge and information.. None but those in the group know about it. Therefore, this group knows much more about the universe and its well rooted secrets and has been in existence for 200 years.

The conception was outstandingl and unlike any that Chennai theatre has seen before. But that was exactly the problem as well. It was highbrow and perhaps for a completely different set of audience. Intellectually quite dense, the language also remained a major hindrance to understanding. Special mention should definitely be made of Sunanda Raghunathan who, as the old woman, delivered an impeccable performance and was the star of a play gone slightly awry.

Niharika is a II BA Literature student of Stella Maris College.

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Printable version | Apr 11, 2021 9:24:17 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/nxg/Guarded-secrets/article15576561.ece

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