Dummies Drama’s Double
Two plays were staged by the Dummies Drama group on July 14 and 15 at Narada Gana Sabha under the auspices of the Kartik Fine Arts Club.
The cast differed on the two days but the writer was the same – V. Sreevathson. ‘Memory Minus’ dealt with memory loss. It was directed by Sriram and featured a new set of actors. The Hollywood film ‘50 First Dates’ dealt with a strikingly similar amnesiac condition. In this play, the theme and treatment made the whole premise appear absurd to the extreme.
The parents of a school-going boy are shocked when the doctor, a family friend, reveals that their son suffers from an extremely rare condition. He is brilliant but will awake to a new day literally every morning. The memory of not only the previous’ days events but also all that happened before will be wiped off his mind! The writer and director then took the audience on a really slow journey. The boy, who does extremely well at school and college, thanks to the support of his father and the doctor, reaches the point when he is setting off for an interview.
Along this course, the viewer had to bear the annoying sparring between the parent and the doctor that ostensibly made up the humour quotient, not to forget the cracks about the quality of the coffee served in the home. Both here and in the next play — as in many sabha plays — coffee comes to the rescue of the writer when he has a gap to fill or needs to project ‘comic relief.’ The scene with the school principal was another segment where inanity ruled. One also wished the writer’s characters refrained from resorting to English sentences when they wished to state anything ‘significant.’
The trend in cinema or theatre seems to be to focus on unusual medical problems. But the success lies in how well the theme is handled and how credible it can be made. The writer here seemed to have bitten off more than he could chew. He resorted to setting his scenes in the corporate world and then with a palpable sense of relief, turned to the world of courtship and marriage. The scenes descended into the usual family drama.
The young actors who featured in the corporate world managed their roles by just being themselves. The young genius got by as a scholar but his appearance hindered him from fitting into the role of a mature man. The final scene was quite absurd. ‘Memory Minus’ was a forgettable effort.
‘Pareekshai,’ directed by Sreevathson, too picked up slowly. But the playwright seemed much more in grasp of his subject in this play, which is a fervent salute to the guru nonpareil. The concept of the ideal guru-sishya relationship was appealing. But the treatment was repetitive and the play often made for tedious viewing. There were far too many scenes of the boy studying at the feet of the master who is bogged down by family problems, and one felt one was back in a Math class. The last scene was significant but far from crisp. The marriage motif was also repetitive and annoying. Every scene ended with a punch line and this set a pattern. The cheerful element was the music.
The role of the sishya was played convincingly by Karthik Bhat as was the guru by Sridhar. The writer who played the priest, the family friend, seemed unable to cope with the delivery of the long speech in the final scene. ‘Parikshai’ was disappointing. The spiritual and the philosophical were handled much better by the writer in a couple of earlier plays