Thursday, June 03, 2010

Dancing on Glass


At the centre of the stage, has been erected a really tall and narrow platform, with stairs leading up to the top. On the platform is a lone chair with lights focused on it from above.

The opening scene shows one of the actors walking the stairs, occupying the chair and speaking into the mouthpiece attached to the headphone.

It’s a call centre employee.

There are just 2 actors. A boy and a girl. Both of them work in the same call centre.

At one time the central theme of the play seems to be the life and troubles of the youth of today working in a call centre or a BPO; working in shifts, sleeping during daytime when everyone else is making hay, skin problems due to no exposure to sunlight, having to work overtime to make up for a colleague who has fallen ill and gone on leave, pain-in-the-neck supervisors, eating 2 minutes noodles most of the time, the monotony of routine and generally, a lacuna in life.

The other thread that is interspersed with what one may consider the main theme is a boy-girl relationship.
A love triangle; the boyfriend, not shown on stage, dies in an accident; the girl moves on or so she wants to believe; the colleague (actor on stage), who happens to be the roommate and friend of the dead, loves her and woos her, but hesitantly; she knows; she begins to like him too, but feels guilty and disloyal to her dead boyfriend when she sees herself responding to the colleague; when the girl responds, the boy feels guilty and disloyal to his dead friend and roommate…
Thus both of them are unsure of what they should do next and elude each other.

One day they get drunk in a pub and ramble about a quiet street, late in the night, babbling and laughing, while all of a sudden, the girl remembers that she is standing on the spot where her boyfriend died in the road accident and breaks down uncontrollably. The play ends.

Both actors are very good with dialogue delivery and speak fluently. Language is far from formal, full of slang and colloquial which suits the call centre context very well.
They bring out the laughs. Body language of the male actor is particularly commendable. Full of energy and vigour, he made his dialogues more funnier and enjoyable.
The mood is light on the whole and only once or twice it gets grim. The last scene was a bit of overkill. though.

But I thought they got quite mixed up. As I mentioned earlier there were two different threads. One was the depiction of the life of call centre employees – highlighting all things characteristic of the life of a community of people living in a time period; a generalization. The other thread was a story of individuals that was neither characteristic of a people nor of a time period, but belonging to all people of all times. This is where I think they got mixed up. The second thread did not serve in any way to reinforce the depiction of lifestyle that the first thread was attempting.
It was as though two unrelated plays were combined to make one play so that 90 minutes could be filled up somehow.

Another thing I noticed was the use of property on stage. A miniature almirah, a miniature fridge, a miniature dressing mirror with an assortment of little objects on it, not to mention the tall platform with its stairs and the chair on top; very different from props used in other plays these days – sparing, easy to handle, easy to move.
While they looked good, was there a necessity? Did they make the play more impactful for all the hard work gone into setting up the stage? I am not sure.

The generous sprinkling of slang and titillating talk too, I think was because of popular demand for titillation and did not add to meaning or purpose. Or did it? given the ‘liberal values’ among the call centre population?

You could watch the play for dialogue delivery, acting skills and for the laughs.

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