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Coimbatore Book Club Theater Group’s four plays

Merry medley

PANKAJA SRINIVASAN

 

 

‘A Pound on Demand’

Four plays, great props and sheer enthusiasm made the CBC Theatre Group performance a pleasant experience

There is something charming about The Coimbatore Book Club Theatre Group (CBCTG). It has to be the enthusiasm of its members. From 20-year-olds to the 80-plus, the group always entertains its audience. This time, CBCTG decided to do a medley of four plays mostly set in the 1900s and in England. And the pleasant evening was the result of months of planning, rehearsals, hunting for the right props and costumes.

Setting the mood

Speaking of props, there was a wonderful old typewriter sitting majestically on a desk. I wish the young lady who played the postal clerk had typed out a line or two on it, just for effect! Kalaivani Chengappa, Pheroza Hataria, Chanda Khaturia, Jayashri Murti, Bindu Rajeev and Ashok Bhat worked hard at sourcing props and managed to create the right setting. From the hat stand, wall clock and tea service, to the nice black-and-white photograph on the wall and the park bench at the garden party, each play was painstakingly put together.

About the plays themselves, they were short and sweet and had familiar characters, typical of plays of the time — the drunk and the policeman, the two-timing man and the outraged woman, the widow, the faithful housekeeper and the scheming children and the landed squire, the fundraiser and the ‘masked bandit’.

Dhiren Khaturia as the inebriated con-man was convincing and funny in “A Pound On Demand”. Prarthana Venunathan as the indifferent and bored postal clerk, Sapna Umamaheshwar as a prickly customer, Subhash John as the Bobby and Pranav Mathur as the beleaguered fellow conman set the tone for the evening.

Happy laughs from the women in the audience greeted the second play, “Three Young Ladies in a Temper”. Annabella, Vivien and Sylvia (N.A. Sujatha, Manisha Shah and Sudha Chandrasekar) are mad but want to get even with Michael Fortune (Amit Mathur) for leading them on. He has promised love and more to each of the three but now is getting married to a fourth woman, Lucy played by Chandana Upadhya. The talons come out and the three plan a hairy revenge.

 

“No Tears for Henry” was the third play. When Emily’s (Monisha Mathur) daughters — the neurotic Henrietta, and the practical Jane (Prerna Gupta and Nithya Sivashankar) — turn up with a hot water bottle and a burial urn as ‘appropriate’ gifts for their recently-widowed mum, she is not pleased. The daughters are indignant as Emily refuses to play the weepy widow. In fact, Emily has great plans for her future and along with her house-keeper-friend Anna (Sapna Umamaheshwar), she thwarts all attempts by them to dampen her spirit.

In “Ruined By the BBC”, James Willacot (Fabian Netto) sang to the audience and told them how he is like Robin Hood. He blames the BBC as it inspired him to give away his wealth. He was bankrupt and hence his sweetheart’s father had rejected his suit. Carlyle D’Silva, Sonika Vikraman, K.V. Siddhartha, Aarti Darra, Peirce Nigli and Chandana Upadhya played out their parts and waltzed their way through the play, accompanied by some lovely dance music.

A literary journey

CBCTG started in 1966 and its enthusiasm remains undiminished. It has done play readings, held drama competitions, conducted drama workshops and entertained Coimbatoreans all these years. It has performed the works of Agatha Christie, Girish Karnad, Hans Christan Anderson, A.A. Milne, Mahesh Dattani and Kasthuri Srinivasan. Shashi Ghulati and Dhinoo Hataria have been its driving force. Enthusiastic patron Air Vice Marshal Victor Srihari, who passed away recently, was sorely missed.

Each year, CBCTG donates proceeds from the tickets to worthy causes. This time, Make-A-Wish-Foundation was the beneficiary. Rajeev Kamineni was the MC for the evening and did he mention something about a musical next? We can’t wait.

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