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When two biggies meet

A COMPETENT PRODUCTION The acting was pretty neat Photo: Radhika Gowda

A COMPETENT PRODUCTION The acting was pretty neat Photo: Radhika Gowda  

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Barking Dog Productions successfully staged Neil Simon’s The Good Doctor

Neil Simon in an interview with The New Yorker had once said that he “loves to take the human mind apart”. The characters in his plays are depicted in all their absurd glory, but in the 1975 play The Good Doctor, Simon, instead of taking apart, delves into the mind of another literary giant. Simon brings alive the writer in Anton Chekov’s mind, through nine of his short stories, in The Good Doctor. It is one of the greatest tributes ever paid to a writer in theatre.

Even if read aloud, instead of performed, The Good Doctor would never fail to entertain for Simon’s and Chekov’s humour blend beautifully. Hence, little can go wrong with staging this play. Though absurd, the stories of the tramp who earns three roubles by impersonating a drowning man, or of the neurotic woman who brings an old man suffering from gout to his knees, or the priest who is at the mercy of a dentist are inexplicably credible.

Hence, Barking Dog Productions, which recently staged the play at Alliance Francaise, already had a winner in their hands. But director N. Rishikesh did experiment with the characters and the stories a bit. The character of Chekov, who in real life was calm, was depicted as eccentric. This worked as it added to the comic element in the play. The endings of some of the stories were slightly tweaked, without compromising on their essence. The director played it safe by keeping the sets minimal, which helped in the smooth transition of one scene to the next. All the scenes were well performed, except that of the meeting between the lovers. The scene started well, but lost steam towards the end.

Deepak Hariharan has a natural charm and a stage presence, which endeared him to the audience. He juggled multiple roles well, the best performances being that of the Casanova who woos other men’s wives and the old man who suffers from gout. He needs to experiment a little more with his acting, though.

I doff my Sherlock Holmes-cap to Prateek Prajosh. He was very convincing as the eccentric Chekov. Sindhu Sreenivasa Murthy’s performance of a neurotic woman deserves special mention. Although the character is hysterical, Sindhu performed the role just right, without going overboard. Mohan Ram played his varied roles with maturity. Sonam Powar, Shraddha Shrinath, Aditi D’Souza, Anju Alva and Chandini Naik provided solid support to the main characters.

The costumes were well designed and the stage management effective. The overall production was competent.





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Printable version | Dec 13, 2019 10:25:45 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/when-two-biggies-meet/article3658296.ece

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