STAGED BY ‘SHARAS’ PRODUCTIONS
NOTE: If you find this review to be humorous, you’re mistaken. If you don’t, you’ve got issues. Or you’re part of the ‘Sharas’ unit. Poster/names/insignia used neither with the consent, nor with prior permission obtained from the production group. Sue me. And once again, expletive-alert. If you have issues with the throw of words, I kindly advise you to stop reading any further. For this could be my most offensive effort at film/dramatic criticism ever. And a personal one as well. A first.
Their play had exactly what they claimed it had (‘Meta-theatre’, for dummies). A beginning. A middle. And an end. That’s as much as I can give to Saraswathi hostel’s production of Stoppard’s ‘the Real Inspector Hound.’ The Theatre-Fest version, I felt, progressed and we found ourselves struck by passable fascination as every facet of its actors’ potential was uncovered in the course of the play. It had mood, it had a certain deliberation towards elegance which I thought was intended, and it had Kalki Koechlin play a ravishingly convenient stereotype. The copycat version, on the other hand, limped along one leg at best with a squeak every now and then. Like a broken toe on an overweight tween.
And it had Saudamini, who plays yet another stereotype: the quintessential ‘insti-female-play-actor’ who can be roughly characterized as ‘smutty, amateurishly, with an arrowhead’s deliberation at crass humour even which, in effect, is non-existent.’ Do not bother to look that up on the Urban dictionary. It’s one of my own. I shall share it in detail with you if you’d like me to.
Her Cynthia, who’s supposed to be the sensual crux and pivot-point of the play, is unabashedly deglamorized. She wears a pillowcase, for heaven’s sake! And she porno-talks and kisses more than one person, but only behind a Japanese fan from the Audrey Hepburn wardrobe. A twitchy, freakishly-funny procedure that shouts 'Let us Kiss!' Where’s Zack and Miri when you need them? (You’d understand what I’m talking about only if you’ve watched the Kevin Smith movie as well as this train-wreck)
Jokes apart, I found her performance as inept as it was unnecessary. And of course, funny, including and especially those places it wasn’t supposed to be. Like when she stands between lines with a compulsive twitch or turn just to show a stay in character. Or lack thereof. Her tattoo acted better, I felt. It shut up and stayed still; warrants a special mention for that. Sushmita as Felicity was worse; hurtful, actually. One wishes she had gone a little easier on the eye; a lot stronger on the ear. Her Felicity, we find, speaks to herself. The audience is unnecessary. These were the two characters that made the Quaff Theatre production endurable. This version, on the other hand, throws an ultimatum. To stay or not to stay.
I did, incidentally. I wasn’t going to miss the climax for anything, given I knew exactly what was going to happen. It has an on-stage gunshot from a gun that shoots twice, miraculously, with a single pull on the trigger. Or wait… Three times, to be precise. It was like Albert could not wait any longer. Wheelchair mishaps are so embarrassing; plus, the beard must itch. The man was in a rush, looking for a kiss that he’d never get. For Cynthia didn’t have her fan with her this time. Duh!
Of course, I can’t talk. I’m someone who wrote and directed a double-disaster last time: two shoddy translations-to-stage of the same play (‘the Patricide’ that I killed). I played the wrong track for the climax that I changed halfway through, the first time around. Next time, we staged a complete Farce. Of my own play. Against intention. This director (whoever he/she is) has worked a miracle, comparatively, pulling this off. But then, it’s like Will Hunting says to Sean Maguire in ‘Good Will Hunting.’ “You spend all your money on these fucking fancy books, you surround yourselves with them. Except they’re the wrong fucking books.” Well, ‘the Real Inspector Hound’ is the wrong fucking play. Plus it has been done this season, and moderately well. Doing it again is like a ‘Transformers 3’ re-release. It was tortuous enough the first time around. Kindergarten skits are more honest. The phone-sex hotline would do better accents. The upside about this thing, I felt, was the swap of the maid for an effeminate butler (rules don’t permit a third actress) who comes up with a noteworthy performance. That was the only detail that pushed on the bar a little. It was kid stuff, otherwise.
‘this Real Inspector Hound’, in all, was an hour-long squeeze of a one-and-a-half hour play – a slurry of fake accents, bad girl-costumes (the menswear was fine, especially the trench copy-coat: Thumbs up for that) and a tasteless rendition with a stolen set. In short, it had every ingredient for Litsoc success. It actually placed second, losing out to a one-act clown-comedy show featuring… clowns. I felt like I was at Vaudeville, yesterday. God help theatre. Or at least Litsoc Dramatics. If that’s even possible.