Tuesday, August 21, 2007


I have never been a compulsive film or play watcher all my life – be it the crassly commercial or the politically and socially correct “parallel” types. I have bypassed even blockbusters like ‘Sivaji’, and many plays for which I normally get tickets but hand them over to friends. It was with some reservation that I readily accepted to see a play – a mainstream one at that! This acceptance was for a fine friend, Samanth – a quizzer, a journalist, a fine actor and this was now his directorial debut.

Directorial debuts normally do not happen at the Metroplus theatre festival – it is the home of seasoned performers. This was one debut I will never forget – this was also my debut of watching a mainstream play. The uncertainty over the tickets was over the moment Rajaram called me to confirm that he had two tickets to the show.

It would be difficult to decide why Samanth deserves praise – the choice of the play, the choice of the artistes, the crisp direction or the eventual performance on the day that counts. What probably stands up to scratch would be the last part, but Samanth deserves praise for all the above.

The story Death and the Maiden is set in the dictatorial era that held sway over South America for a long time. It is about a woman – Paulina Salas coming face to face with her tormentor – Dr Roberto Miranda after a long time of 15 years, that too as a sudden but close friend of her husband Gerardo Escobar. The fires of revenge that are dormant within Paulina are stoked by the voice, smell and the language of Roberto, and she extracts a confession – both on paper and on tape. It is another matter that this would not be handed over to the sort of Truth and Reconciliation Commission of which her husband had just become a member. This was only for their safety – so that the likes of Roberto do not hound them again.

The performances of all the three characters were compelling. The sets were minimalistic, the lighting outstanding, the sound effects superb and the comedy was subtle at times and overtly suggestive at others. The real meaning of the comedy hit me hard in hindsight when I digested the play once again over a late dinner.

The liberal sprinkling of dual entendres in the dialogues, the unfettered usage of four letter words, of which probably “jack” was the mildest in nature, in a way strengthened the script – and was reflective of the tortuous times the Escobars had to go through – particularly Paulina – as Salas. What for me took the cake was the scene where after having tied Roberto to a chair, Paulina stuffing her panty in his mouth as an afterthought to muzzle any voices Roberto might raise! Very symptomatic of the raison d’être of the play!


Blogger Samanth said...

Good to see your blog in action once more, Mr Joshi! Hope to see many more posts here.

Interesting that the full import of the play hit you only after it had ended... I think it is that kind of play, definitely, which can haunt you long after you have left the hall.


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