Reliving 'The Graduate' days

Kevin (centre) with the cast of `The Graduate'

Kevin (centre) with the cast of `The Graduate'  

IF YOU remember the Dustin Hoffman starrer The Graduate, this is a play you will want to see. If you are too young, it is worth going to at least to connect those Simon and Garfunkel hits with the theme.

The Graduate, produced by Prasad Bidappa Associates and directed by Kevin J.Oliver, uses the original sound tracks of Paul Simon, bringing back memories of the Sixties and Seventies.

It is the story of Ben Braddock, a 21-year-old who is seduced by a friend of his parents, Mrs. Robinson, at a graduation party thrown by his parents for him. Disillusioned with himself but intrigued enough to call Mrs. Robinson for a drink, they meet at the Taft Hotel. An affair starts and incidents lead to his dating Elaine, Mrs. Robinson's daughter. Ben falls in love with the younger woman and then all hell breaks loose.

A cult novel, a classic film, Benjamin's disastrous sexual odyssey is brought to life vividly in this stage premiere production. A laugh riot from the start the end, it is a must-see for any fan of the stage, especially for those who remember the classic screen version with Ann Bancroft and Dustin Hoffman.

Kevin, the director who is in Bangalore after 14 years, has produced plays in Toronto, Canada, and on Broadway and remembers staging other plays in the Eighties with Prasad Bidappa. "The play is a lot lighter and not as dark as the movie and the music adds a special touch," says Kevin.

For Bidappa, theatre is the first love and finding enough backing for a stage production is still difficult in Bangalore, he feels.

"Theatre needs all the support we can get... most theatre here is from private initiative with outside sponsors," he says. "When Kevin came back, the idea of staging The Graduate began to take shape and my wife, Judith, wanted to play Mrs. Robinson," he adds.

There was a sneak preview at The Park's i-Bar, a snippet with some members of the cast in it. The scene was Ben surrounded by parents and Robinson, and being greeted on winning a scholarship to graduate school. Everyone wants to decide his future and the young man feels fed up and doesn't want to join the party hosted for him.

And then, Mrs. Robinson makes her appearance and the comic reaction of each other follows.

Neeraj Chinnappa, who is cast as Ben, looks promising while veterans, Arundathi Raja as his mother and Tuffy Taraporewala as Robinson play their roles effortlessly.

Ajit Bide as Ben's dad is the over-powering typical Jewish father who enjoys his character. The Graduate has Neil Augustus playing four roles, as the hotel desk clerk, a psychiatrist, priest, and dancer.

The play is to premiere on February 5 at Guru Nanak Bhavan with two more shows on the next two days.

By Satyamurty K

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