"We make the world happier – and currently we do this with our Live Theater Shows" - the site of Evam says!I can attest to the truth and my friends who accompanied me yesterday for the play at Rangashankara would readily agree.
I have read the book and seen the poor movie adaptation but this play is something else altogether. When you have the same story in three different forms - book, play and movie - it is not difficult to see what would work best and have the maximum impact. Of course, it also depends on which one came first and which of the adaptations are more honest to the original.
One liners and turn-of-phrase when read stay with us not because they can be easily remembered but because they encapsulate a certain truth or condition so easily and effectively. The stage has an advantage here. The rendering is more physical than the other media - the audience is so close and so involved in the proceedings that an acknowledgment and appreciation is much more spontaneous when somethings strike a chord.
The auditorium at Rangashankara was very lively yesterday considering that it was the last day of the play at Bangalore before Evam can come back again. Coming to the actual play, the narrator had a lot to do considering that he is voicing the inner turmoils and emotions of the performers. I feel he could have done a better job at it since one or two fumbles were quite obvious. Of the performers, Alok definitely stole everybody's heart. His character in the book with his helplessness, confusion, agony and relatively mundane existence was brought out exceptionally well on stage.
Ryan was very good in the more dramatic sequences when he had to influence and criticize. Hari was somebody you had to like - as he romances Neha and serves as the perfect manifestation of the "infection" thanks to Ryan. Neha's voice didn't carry in certain sequences but otherwise she did her part well. The supporting performers like Prof Veera and Cherian were OK.
The play worked because the book has become a definition of sorts - capturing the state of the higher education system with effective stereotypes and clearly etched out characters. The lights and their shifting focus gave a dreamlike feeling especially in the weighty emotional portions. I found myself feeling as if an elaborately intense dream is being played out on stage. Kudos to the whole Evam crew for this!
As we discussed the play, what remained with us were some one liners and the manner in which they were performed on stage. Writing a script for a play and then directing is not half as difficult as adapting a book for the stage. So crystallizing the ideas in a book to a production of 2.5 hrs and staying true to it all along - that deserves a lot of applause.
The cast was young and have every reason to feel proud of themselves. Another Friday evening was thoroughly well spent thanks to friends and Rangashankara!