At Thrissur, the place I hail from, there is a place called the Regional Theatre. It is one of the many cultural hubs in the city of Thrissur widely known as the Cultural Capital of Kerala. Also it is barely 5 minutes away from my home. Hence it is a matter of colossal shame (to me personally) that the first play I ever saw was after I came to Bangalore – a month or so back, to be precise. It was a wonderful experience and it certainly moved me enough to decide that I’d be back to theatre many a time in future – a promise I was not able to make good of until yesterday.
On Sunday, a friend and I decided to go to a play called “The Open Couple”. I had been harping on about how Bangalore’s cultural strength is overshadowed by its bright new malls and discotheques (not that I’m against it!) and it is perhaps to gain momentary relief from this that he came up with this idea. Besides, there is something exhilarating about paying 300 bucks to watch a play as compared to spending the same amount for watching a less than decent (and often downright crappy, IMHO) movies, don’t you think?
So back to our play. The Open Couple is a satirical English play written by Nobel Prize winner Dario Fo and his wife Franca Rame in 1983 and is directed by Faraz Khan who was recently featured in Anand Gandhi’s Ship of Theseus. It revolves around the life of Antonia (Vaishali Bisht) when her husband, referred to as ‘The Man’ (Anuj Gurwara) decides that he is bored of their normal married life and proposes that they be in an open relationship. The play opens with Antonia as a suicidal emotional wreck and through a series of funny, poignant vignettes, concludes with a complete role reversal.
The play is nothing like you expect it to be. For one, the first thing I noticed when I got inside the hall was that there was a commode at the center of the stage. Just a commode and no other furniture except for 2 wooden stools. Also the troupe uses painted faces and includes some miming techniques and several exaggerated body movements to convey the ridiculousness of certain situations. It goes without saying that the two actors have done a wonderful job of portraying Antonia and The Man, especially the adorable Italian accent – so much so that I actually thought that the actors were of Italian origin! (Of course, this was a source of great humour to my friend!) It was only after I got home and Googled the play that I realized that the actors are rather acclaimed in the theatre world. Vaishali Bisht, Google tells me, is a graduate in theatre and drama studies from the University of Kent in Canterbury, England and Anuj Gurwara is an active theatre actor in Hyderabad and has worked in films with directors like SS Rajamouli, Sekhar Kammula and Nagesh Kukunoor.
At the end of the day, The Open Couple certainly lived upto its promise of being “A larger-than-life and bizarre with unexpected dose of life and laughter.” The show is on at Jagriti Theatre, Whitefield, Bangalore everyday till 28th September 2014. Online booking is available at bookmyshow.com