Friday, July 04, 2008

Silence! The Court is in Session


A writer or a novelist has the luxury of several pages(as many as he wants), to sketch a character he has in mind, by describing the character in detail like his/her appearance, habits, lifestyle, idiosyncrasies. He can even illustrate by the help of certain incidents and examples from the past. And added to all this, the author may first describe all the characters before actually going on to the narration of the story itself.

Theatre, in comparison, offers very limited resources. You have to use time very judiciously when you have at hand the task of sketching a good 10 characters in a short span of 2 hours.

And a playwright has to do the character sketching as the plot is enacted (No additional time is available for the job). Therefore, he has to use time very judiciously and those few dialogues and actions meant for conveying the idiosyncrasies or features of the character need to be very effective or the audience will not get it…

I must admit that this play that I watched at Alliance Francaise had good character sketching.

A play by Vijay Tendulkar, it’s a story written in 1967, originally in Marathi. It mirrors the society of those times - really conservative, orthodox, judgmental and curious to the extent of causing disgust.
A motley of people in a village including the educated and the illiterate scheme to humiliate a Mrs Benare, a school teacher, who has a relationship with a colleague that is considered illegitimate by the society. Mrs Benare who has been tolerating the rest of the characters speaks up at last.
The play attempts to give the likes of “Mrs Benare”, a chance to defend themselves against a deaf, unforgiving society. I will not reveal more.
I heard it was controversial during those days. I am not surprised.

It is very humorous throughout although it revolves around a serious subject. Only towards the end, it gets grim. I actually became incited at one point and uttered a profanity at the “wicked woman”, under my breath. Not very proud of having done that.

Just a few words from Rokde evoke so much laughter from the audience not because what he said was very funny in itself but because the character of Rokde was so very well sketched that the subtle humour in a single line that Rokde delivered was not lost on the audience. The crafty lawyer, the innocent and naive Samanth, the comical, forgetful, Rokde whom everyone makes fun of… all the idiosyncrasies well depicted.

There was some stammering and faltering in dialogue delivery. But given that each one had so many lines to deliver, I would forgive that.

Overall, “Great job!”

1 comment:

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