History taught us that nothing but good can come up of mindlessly imitating whomever
we see on TV. Thankfully, theater hasn't taken that to heart too much - at least,
Playing at the barest of stages and with the bluntest of words, actors from the Fergusson College, Pune, brought to Hyderabad today their curiously titled "WordPlay". But if you thought that you had consented to one hour of fawning, preening, smirking and vapid banter, then you'd have been quelled. For this was entertainment with factory-assembled precision.
WordPlay is eight short skits of 4 to 6 minutes each, reflecting the outcome of crossing cosmopolitan pressure with peppered hometruths. The play is based on the published screenplays of 'A Bit Of Fry And Laurie', which is a BBC series by the writer-actor duo Stephan Fry and Hugh Laurie.
The first skit, 'Firing', is about the boss-employee Dilbert-style goofs. Here it's the boss ending up a creek without a paddle. The excessive use of the word fire comes with a restraining warning to the amateur arsonists.
'Frank Talk' that followed is really something like 'I'm gay, my wife's lesbian and my daughter's undecided'. Sort of witnessing an endangered animal eating an endangered plant in our not-so-distant future.
The 'Psychiatrists' came next. Some wisdom is given to all, yet many play lottery.
And this time it's the audience as it suspenses itself in the slimy who's who
'Sound Name', though sounding a wee bit unsound, is really about visualizing sounds.
But no hordes of terrified rats fleed from underneath the stage leaping and clawing
for safety, as some creative on-spot acoustics were generated.
Then came 'Prize Poem'. If in the national schemes of things a category for 'Best Incoherent And Obscenity Filled Poetry' is proposed, 'Prize Poem' would give the very deserving and numerous aspirants a run for their money.
Till now you were only subtly smirking, so the 'Jewelry', or rather the jeweler, invoked some terminal giggling through his hormonally addled renditions. And the sacramental practice of parents subjecting kids to the grittiness of realism is summarized in 'A Word, Timothy'.
And finally, nothing could compare with the highly philosophical but absolutely meaningless expletives issuing from the 'throatlet' of our saccharine barber, who does anything but 'Haircut'.
The ensemble cast of Arindom Basu, Samrat Chakrabarti, Kaushik Guha, Shruti Navathe, Rukkini Sen and Nikhelesh Sinah already had the Mood Indigo 2001 (the IIT Mumbai fest) award to their score, and did nothing to sully that. The organizers were justifiably thrilled by the response, both in numbers and applause, though a little prompt here 'n' there is desirable to cue some ends.
But then comedy is a serious business. Not to be achieved by attire or loudness, the absence of which only added to the aroma of the evening (not forgetting that the hosts were the scenic Our Place). In the words of a famous American, humor is of the people, by the people and for the people, albeit the quick-witted ones.
WordPlay was organized by Sanskar, which has the reputation of relieving the quality-event-starved Hyderabadis by arranging trysts with maestros and artists.