The month began, quite literally, with Q Theatre Productions venturing into children’s theatre. A Thespo initiative, The Mighty Mirembayanna and the Prisoners of Peace opened to good houses even though its dates were beyond the main Summertime period at Prithvi. An easy watch with some fine young actors, with a simple and sweet message, albeit a bit sparse, but with an aesthetically wonderful denouement.
In a bold move, the Rangbaaz Theatre Group took their Urdu comedy, Bade Miyan Deewane, to NCPA Experimental, which is the English theatre capital of South Mumbai. Despite an unknown cast, and a somewhat tacky poster, the show was sold out in advance! Sixty people were turned away at show time. This was a historical event, and even the NCPA staff was left wondering what worked so well. In a bolder move, Rangbaaz takes it to Tata in August.
A couple of weeks later, much to everyone’s complete surprise, Rage’s shows of One on One at Experimental had houses that were below expectations. South Mumbai, Experimental, Rage - usually an unbeatable combination. Could football be such a big detractor? Elsewhere, the large St. Andrew’s auditorium ran to a packed house at 4pm for A Class Act, a new production company’s sophomore play. But that’s the thing. Everything is so erratic in the theatre business. Times, they-are-a always changing.
Actor-director Trishla Patel added a writing feather to her cap, made her pilot husband a producer and put up T-Pot’s Kumbh Katha, a potboiler about two brothers, with strong mythological themes and loads of film references. A strange kettle of fish, some would say. My understanding was that at the outset, an audience member will either buy into it, or won’t. In case of the former, the plot and some performances will be enjoyed. In case of the latter, a confused expression is all the viewer will take home from the play. I bought into it, watched it more than once, and enjoyed it in parts, but still believe that it tended to suffer from excesses. Too many cities, too many people, too much sound, too much information packed in too tight. And somewhere the ‘extra-curricular’ (or taam jhaam) took away from the main thread. The large cast was headed by one of my favourite actors, Sanjay Dadhich. We spoke at length about him finally playing the main lead in a play, and how it was great, and he said something like, “I don’t know if I’m talented, but people think I am, so I need to keep them happy”. Move over Will Smith. He is Legend.
The Sultanate of Oman beckoned again this year, and we went there with one of our plays. Dates got shifted twice, visas got rejected because “6 young women were being brought into the country”, last minute confirmations happened, the property trunk got left behind, one of the young women almost got left behind because she carried the wrong passport, we stayed in a resort with a name suspiciously like “Al Qaeda”, but there were rooms and not just caves, much shopping was done, much junk food consumed, some alcohol, some sightseeing, one team member partied all night and hitchhiked for 80 kilometers with questionable Arab gentlemen, and there was one wonderful boat ride. Oh yes, the show also happened, decently enough. And all this thanks to a theatre loving general physician with balls of steel. A true Muscateer.