LIFE

A positive sign

Noteworthy performance.

Noteworthy performance.  

ACCORDING TO the weighty announcement that preceded the performance, the play was meant to be a mirror reflecting contemporary realities. Only that it relied on Bodhayan's 14th Century Sanskrit play Bhagwadajjukam.

No doubt, those assembled at the Fine Arts Hall on Friday evening for this month's programme of Bank Employees Arts Movement, Ernakulam (BEAME) did have some lighter moments to enjoy.

The play has a sage demonstrating to his disciple the power of yoga by transferring his soul to the dead body of Vasanthasena, a prostitute. By that time, messenger of death realises that he has made a mistake and returns to replace the woman's soul. Only to find it occupied by another one. So he leaves the soul in sage's body. Confusion and comedy are natural outcome to this situation.

A positive sign

Before any appreciation of the performance, it should be noted that it is really a nice experience to watch those trained in theatre moving around the proscenium. Training imparts a sort of grace to their movements and timbre in their voice. It is also a relief not see actors crowding around the microphone for their voices to be heard.

The experience of Abhinaya, a centre for theatre training based at Thiruvananthapuram and its leading man Reghoothaman was visible in the play. Incidentally, Reghoothaman played the part of the sage.

When the messenger from the other world fishes his bag for Vasanthasena's soul, he chances upon the souls of Karl Marx, Sage Bharata and Prof. G. Sankara Pillai, in that order. That was perhaps the loudest satirical statement in the play.

There are many oblique comments to the over-burdening of amateur plays in Malayalam with the ``natyadharmi'' style of acting. But at this point, roles reverse. Like a mirror turned to itself, the play mocks itself.

Being a free adaptation of the Malayalam translation of the Sanskrit play - the translation has been done by Kavalam Narayana Panicker - the director could experiment with the structure of the play.

However, the director, M. G. Jyothish appeared to have been carried away with the inherent element of comedy in the play. And as if to justify the philosophy of Abhinaya to recycle waste materials as stage property, there were many forced presences on the stage. Ideologies are indeed a burden to art.

Jyothish is definitely one of the names to look up to in times to come. This particular play has shades of his talent, appearing in flashes.

The play was also a positive note on the future of Malayalam theatre.

For this city, that has been going through a dry patch in theatre activities for some time now, it provided relief.

By Anand Haridas

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