Hindu Review of C.J. Thomas’s play “Crime 27 of 1128”
‘Crime 27 of 1128,’ an adaptation of C.J. Thomas’ play of the same name, is a satire that exposes the seamy side of the establishment.
THE LIVING DEAD: A scene from ‘Crime 27 of 1128.’
‘Crime 27 of 1128,’ a drama written by playwright C.J. Thomas in 1954, is a study of death and human relationships. It is an example of meta-theatre that is self-reflective in form and content.
When writer and playwright Alex Vallikunnam breathed life into the text by remaking the classic work into a two-hour play, it became a new experience for the audience at Vyloppilli Samskriti Bhavan in Thiruvananthapuram. What Thomas envisioned and addressed 50 years ago is still relevant, it seems.
Lessons in life
On one plane, the play mocked the pretensions of people from different classes of society. Outside the framework we have the story of Guru and Sishya.
The former wants to teach his student the greatest lesson in life – that of death. Through the play, the guru reveals to his student, how death becomes a travesty.
For the media, death is a space-filling exercise. We see Sishya, now as a journalist named Mathew, who wishes to do something for the living – for Markose, the man who murdered Varky.
A visit to the court reveals the unfolding drama. Along with Mathew, we learn that law and justice are entirely different concepts. The play takes a dig at the legal system and the idea of capital punishment. The play poses several questions about death and the dead but does not linger to answer any of them in the quest to reveal more such existential mines that are strewn in the path of life.
Dark humour is ingrained in the narration that depicted the establishment as insensitive, cruel and downright evil. Alex Vallikkunnam has done a brilliant job in adapting Thomas’ dark, intellectual and philosophical work on to the stage. The characters keep breaking the fourth wall with ease, unsettling the audience and forcing them to ponder. His skills as a director were evident in the way he spoke to a contemporary audience using a work that redefined the boundaries of Malayalam theatre 50 years ago.
Ahammad Muslim’s brilliant performance as Guru was matched by the splendid acting of Rajawarrier as both Shishya and Mathew. P.J. Radhakrishnan’s as the Judge elicited quite a few laughs. Ratnakumar, Aniljith, Sam George, Reena Ashir, Shailaja were the other actors.
“It was a challenge to select dramatic elements of a play, which has such depth and philosophical resonance,” says Alex. The play was staged by ‘Oridam,’ a theatre troupe based in Thiruvananthapuram.