Monday, May 31, 2010

Classic Milds in the Rain

I love the theatre, a play in whatever language that you may take me to. I love it for the improvisation and the spontaneity of the actors. It is almost an oxymoron, but I love theatre for how real and live it can be. And I love Rangashankara for making theatre so accessible and not the sole domain of the intellectual elite.

Last evening’s play ‘Classic Milds’ was a slice of what I would call the urban life, on the lines of that great Hindi movie ‘Life in a Metro’. Or perhaps it is too presumptuous to say that, life really isn’t too different in the rural areas either; it probably sounds more fashionable to restrict some emotions and events to the urban psyche.

The play consisted of shorter episodes by different writers, mostly written in the early 20th century. None were irrelevant to modern times. I especially loved ‘One for the Road’, written by Harold Pinter. Now I have never read his plays, but it was told by the narrators that he is known for his use of silence and the tension, suspense it creates. This sequence was inspired apparently by Pinter’s travel in Turkey where he got into a conversation with two women about the alleged torture of political prisoners in that country.

There is one polite torturer, all the more dangerous because of it. Then there is one political prisoner in the first scene, his beautiful wife, raped more times than she can now remember and a son in the background somewhere, one who is deemed to be a prick. Those tortured do not speak much, it is here that Pinter’s silences come to play. It is almost like the torturer, downing several drinks, is on a monologue trip. The best was the last scene where the man is told that he will be allowed to go, that his wife would join him in the next few weeks, “if she was still up to it.” The man, so tortured already that he can barely speak, asks for his son. The torturer only says, “he was a prick.” The cries of the man at that instance was torturous enough to the audience.

In ‘A Separate Piece’, there is a man, without a clear background, with money who wants to do nothing. He gets into a hospital where it is accepted that you don’t do anything all day. While he is happy doing just that, everyone else is formulating theories as to who might be and getting him to do something. Goes only to show how the world will never, ever let you do what you want, and instead, always try to bring you in line with what is generally perceived to be the right thing.

The play was performed by Akvarious Productions, Mumbai. It was definitely one of the better ones I have watched. But then, almost anything in Rangashakara has a potential of being good. A little strange woman wanted to debate the play with me; I realized that it is sometimes hard to make another person understand the nuances of culture and practice of subtlety. I would never make a very great teacher I think.

As I stepped out of the theatre, it was raining heavily. Jay and I ended up having tea and something that passed off as hot chocolate. But then I refuse to complain about Anju’s cafĂ© there, I love the place. And of course we ended up discussing Milds and life and all that jazz, like always.

There is just something about rain that makes me…I don’t know. There is just something about it that necessitates deep thoughts, conversations and evenings. Thank goodness the monsoon is nearly here.

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