Friday, April 23, 2010

When The Pythons Followed The Actor

19th March 2010, 7:30
Troupe : VODO

This play had two parts to it. One was based on the theme or question of what happens when there is last minute replacements of actors. Quite exaggerated and unreal but imaginative and humorous. This was based on Christopher Durang’s ‘The Actor’s Nightmare’.
The second half was a series of scenes based on works of Monty Python, humorous.

The opening scene showed a rather unassuming, thin, unshaven nondescript guy of medium height on stage that did not look particularly adorable.
As he walked the stage unhurriedly to the centre, there came a woman who announced to him that he was to replace another actor in the troupe who had met with an accident and the play would begin in a short while, and after announcing this, she walked away hurriedly, not waiting for the consent of the guy.

The play gets interesting when a woman, in her costume, an evening gown, comes to perplexed, confused guy and tells him that she would give him cue thrice, upon which he was to pull the zip on the back of her dress, upon which she would slap him.

Hearing this, the actor makes a hopeless face and the laughter begins.

The play within the play begins. The unprepared actor gives unexpected responses to the lady in the first scene. People on backstage come running to him every now and then, under some pretext and drop the lines into the actor’s ears.

It gets more and more entertaining as the actor shows his desperation, caught between his co-actor who is by now visibly irritated with the guy who doesn’t know his lines and the backstage helpers who don’t come to his help as often as he would like them.

The scenes change, ‘our actor’ has other co-actors to deal with and his confusion compounds. He begins to deliver lines from other plays quite out of context – like the line from Shakespeare – ‘To be or not to be, that is the question’.

By now, our actor who in the beginning seemed quite plain and common, has become a very cute, adorable fellow, having the audience in splits and at the same time their sympathy for his situation.

The imagination (whoever it may be attributed to) of all that could go wrong with last minute replacements and changes has produced good comic results.

But in some of the scenes, humour was lost on me since I did not know which plays these scenes were taken from – some scenes were obviously from famous plays as I could see that the audience was able to appreciate what was going on. To be able to fully appreciate plays such as these, you must have watched or read the famous plays. I mean, you must be really ‘close’ to theatre.

After this theme based play, there were the scenes based on Monty python’s sketches. Three of them, I think. One was the Pet Shop Sketch or Parrot sketch showing a lady carrying a dead parrot in a funny altercation with the shopkeeper that sold the parrot to her. His arguments to prove that the parrot was not dead but alive – that it was stunned, sleeping, resting, tired - and the lady’s exasperation were surely enacted quite well.

The next scene was the bookshop sketch by Monty Python – a lady walks to a bookshop and asks for a series of non-existent books by non-existent authors – like David Coperfield with a single p and not 2 p’s, Grate expectations with g-r-a-t-e and not g-r-e-a-t, expurgated version of a book on birds, and so on.
When at last, the shopkeeper finds a book that she asks for, it turns out the lady has no money. Now a really exasperated shopkeeper offers to buy the book for her. But it turns out that she does not know how to read. The scene ends with the shopkeeper reading the book aloud for her!

A really hilarious one by itself, and enacted well too. It’s just that a few lines were lost in the roar of laughter that the play evoked.

I thought the same scene enacted by Evam as part of their “Always look on the bright side of life” was a better job.

And there was the ‘Last supper’ with the Pope and Michael Angelo who painted The Last Supper with 28 disciples, a kangaroo and three Christs!

Good Show!

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