Monday, April 13, 2015
Play Review: Black Comedy by Old Cheese and The Chhota Haazri Theatre Company
I had just come back after spending a week at my native town and as soon as came back to Delhi, I saw in the newspaper a play being performed in the evening and immediately booked the tickets. I wasn’t too sure though what to expect as I had never seen any production by the team. I must say I had an amazing time and have not laughed so hard in a long time.
The play is adopted from one-act farce written by Peter Shaffer and was first performed in 1965. Farce are one of the best comedies or the worst if not executed well. Directors Raghav Puri and Roopali Singhal have done a brilliant job in keeping the pace of the story up, audiences in split throughout the play with charted out characters and situations.
The name of the play “Black Comedy” does not come from the theme. It does not poke fun at a dead person. The title is a pun for the reverse lighting condition used in the act. What is this reverse lighting condition? The play is written to be staged under a reversed lighting scheme: the play opens on a darkened stage. A few minutes into the show there is a short circuit, and the stage is illuminated to reveal the characters in a "blackout." On the few occasions when matches, lighters, or torches are lit, the lights go dim.
Produced by Old Cheese and The Chhota Haazri Theatre Company the play is about the chain of events that follow when Aditya and Naina, an engaged couple, invite a millionaire to see Aditya’s artwork, and to impress him have stolen antiques from a neighbor Jai Juneja. Naina’s formidable father, Colonel Sethi is also expected. The lights fuse, and the arrival of several unexpected visitors effectively wrecks the evening. What happens next is a rib tickling comedy arising from dumbness of Naina, perpetual disdain of others by Colonel Sethi, confusion and discomfort of Aditya to the entire situation, weirdness of Ms Catherine Jacobs, bitchiness of Aditya’s ex-gf Samira and homo-cidal tendencies of Jai Juneja . Throw in the short stint by the electrician and we have an hour of pure clean comedy. It is hard to say what made the act so brilliant. Was it the script, the direction, the perfectly timed acting or on stage props and lighting? I think it’s a combination of all four. A brilliant stage performance is held by four pillars – script, acting, direction and props. All four pillars are equally strong in this one and even if one of them went weak, the play would be weak and shaky. Kabeer Ahmed has brilliantly pulled off the role of Colonel Sethi and sends the audience into a fit of laughter with his perfectly timed one-liners. He loves and at the same time loathes his own daughter Naina played by very beautiful Vidushi Chadha who plays the role of a typical beauty without brains to the tee. Tanvika Parlikar as the over religious Ms Katherine Jacobs says very little but when she does open her mouth it is at the most inappropriate times. Dhruv Sirohi buys some sympathy for his character of Aditya Mehra though his own character is to blame for all that goes wrong during the night. Vishnu Sinha gives an over the top treatment to the gay character of Jai Juneja, the neighbor who has hots for Aditya. Sakhi Upadhayay as Samira would make you think about your ex and how an estranged ex can make a bad situation worse with just her mere presence.
It is a must watch for everyone and kudos to the entire team for such a brilliant performance. Looking forward to more productions from them.
Dhruv Sirohi - Aditya Mehra
Vidushi Chadha - Naina
Tanvika Parlikar - Ms Katherine Jacobs
Kabeer Ahmed - Colonel Sethi
Vishnu Sinha- Jai Juneja
Sakhi Upadhyaya - Samira
Rishan Dhamija- Mr. Tomer