Actor's dilemma, director's too!

A new setting.

A new setting.  

FOR THE residents of the idyllic Kumbalam, this might have been a novel experience. None of the local people who gathered for the formal inaugural session of Prakrti, the new base for Gopal Prasad Dubey, Chhau master, might have seen anything like this before.

The entire programme took those who might have come expecting a local fare by surprise. It was time for the first staging of Kavalam Narayana Panicker's new play, `Kalivesham' in Kochi. Even though the play was to be presented again the very next day at the Changampuzha Park, Edappally, many wanted to watch the play in the stage prepared by Prakrti.

No wonder, as the stage located on the banks of the backwaters at Kumbalam was the best possible setting available for a performance.

When a master decides to settle down in `God's own country', expect him to choose the best possible spot. Only drawback, if you are particular on having one, about the venue is that earth ends there and after Prakrti, there is only water.

The new play from the repertoire of Sopanam led by Kavalam, perhaps the best known exponent of Malayalam theatre in the world outside, disappointed those who stayed back, resisting the temptation to postpone watching the play to the next day as dark night settled over the backwater. The play dealt with an extraordinary theme - about an actor, a god-fearing Brahmin in real life, made to play the bad guy in Kathakali again and again so that viciousness tries to control his real self. Being a poet par excellence, Kavalam could put it effectively down in paper _ pegging the play with the character of Kali in Nalacharitam.

An actor's predicament.

An actor's predicament.  

But the director in Kavalam failed to deliver. Watching the play, one realised with much agony that he had not advanced much from the point where he was with his first work.

His failing as a director stood exposed as he looked lost in handling characters on the stage. When they had nothing particular to do on the stage, they just froze and remained so till their next cue.

Despite brilliant performances by Girish as the actor being plagued by Kali and Krishnakumar as Kali, the play failed to rise to expectations.

Besides, the technicians took quite some time in connecting and fine-tuning more than a dozen lights. Excellence in placement of lights and their operation are not something one expects from a Kavalam play, anyway.

On the brighter side, the play marked the inauguration of a quality performing space on the fringes of the city, along with a couple of Chhau performances. Those at Kumbalam may cherish memories of these visions for quite sometime.

By Anand Haridas

Photos: H. Vibhu

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