"Physical attraction is like chewing gum. After a while the flavor goes," says
Norman, the writer who is just out of a love affair. "That's why they put five
in a pack," replies Andy, the editor and publisher.
That about summarizes The Star Spangled Girl, an all-American play by Neil Simon that elaborates on the philosophy that you can stay for only so long in a relationship, chewing only until the flavor lasts. Then you move on to another.
It looks very cliched and an easy to follow tenet, but it doesn't seem to be so to the two characters of this hilarious play, Norman and Andy, who are struggling to run a magazine called 'Fallout' only on the strength of their belief in the credo 'A remedy for a sick society'.
And they are just about surviving on their dwindling resources and on the landlady's manipulative kindness - she is forever involving the hapless Andy in her beach parties and karate sessions - and life has lost much of its spice when there comes excitement in a shapely form as a brunette called Sophie, who moves into the vacant next door apartment.
Norman is obsessed with the girl and Andy tries to keep the magazine (and his sanity) afloat. The best laugh lines of Neil Simon are woven into the play. A few samples:
"You look like the hatched egg of a lunatic bird." - Andy's description of Norman
"Apart from all that, is there any chance of you falling in love with me?" - Norman's reaction after a tirade of expletives from Sophie
"Please talk softly, I want to hear her taking the stockings off." - Norman
"When Norman is around, my hair falls, my nails crack and I break out in hives." - Sophie
"I have been with Norman for 9 years, and my eyelashes, which were nice and black, have turned gray." - Andy
The complication arises when Sophie is attracted to Andy's gray eyelashes and his smell, even before Norman has gotten over her enchanting smell and gorgeous earlobes (which he bites in a frenzied moment of love).
Arvind Mittal of "Expressions" directs the play and plays Andy perfectly. He brings out the correct "expression" in all the scenes, including the one where he simply cannot resist Sophie's overtures. Firasath Ali Khan, playing Norman, had the crowd in stitches. The laugh lines were always there, but his delivery enhanced the effect multifold. Trishita Choudhuri as Sophie was a little hesitant at first, but picked up her cues as the play progressed, and was endearing as the girl who shifts her priorities, be it men or patriotic feelings, at the blink of a (gray!) eyelash.
Kakatiya Sheraton organized the play along with Seagram's Blender's Pride
in the immediate wake of Siren
City at the Taj Krishna. The competitive spirit showed in the arrangements.
A tastefully arranged eating fare that you could place on a plate instead of waiting
for a considerate waiter who may or may not choose you as the object of his affection,
Dhunji Kaurana receiving the guests graciously, the press and the others too taken
care of with due courtesy by the sales team etc. all reflected it. The only parts
where the arrangements faced a snag were when power failure twice stopped the
play for lengths.
At the end we came out feeling satisfied on all counts - with the flavor of both the play and of the Kakatiya lasting long.