Tuesday, November 29, 2005

When the python hissed... (a review in MetroPlus coimbatore dated 24th Nov 2005)

Plays could be unlimited fun, showed evam with their Python Hyssssteria, writes ANIMA BALAKRISHNAN

It was evam's Second Coming to Coimbatore. But unlike Yeats' beastly lion-man, it was a python that hissed mad here. And it unleashed no darkness and terror, but a laugh riot. After `Art', performed a year ago, Chennai-based entertainment company evam was back with the weird Python Hyssssteria presented by the G.V. Centre for Performing Arts.
The lights never went off literally during the hour-long show as the actors strode the thin line between comedy and the bizarre, accompanied by music and dance. They brought to life 11 British comic sketches by Monty Python.
Monty Python, started by six young men in the United Kingdom in the 1960s, thrived on a series of comedy sketches and went on to shape the comic psyche of an entire generation. Evam brought alive the madness, stroked and threatened to bring to the fore the weirdness quotient lurking within every individual.
The capacity crowd of young theatre buffs and seasoned play enthusiasts took their time to warm up to the absolute craziness of Python Hyssssteria. The mission was simple — to make the world a crazier place and the promise hard to resist — a ride of our life. For many young ones, it was an ideal initiation into the world of drama as evam made theatre fun.
Comedy can be a dicey affair and the risks are high especially when the situations are simply impossible. "Python Hyssssteria is a very new theatre experience, for the comic sketches help break the ice with people. But you cannot go overboard as it will become slapstick," says Sunil Vishnu K, who formed evam along with Karthik Kumar.
With 14 performances of the play behind them, the actors were surely at ease, deftly handling hilarious lines with their timing spot-on.
Bizarre bytes
The spectators got a whiff of what's in store as the play unfolded with four actors churning out the most bizarre stories about being raised in poverty and it ranged from living in paper bags in a septic tank to being "assassinated" by their father every night. The actors slipped from one comic capsule to the other with ease though there were costume changes after every sketch.

The set was sparse with amusing stuffed pythons adorning the fence in the background. The set-changes after each sketch were fun as young dancers took over. The entertaining musical interludes kept the tempo of comic pieces going. "The choreographed set-changes gave the sketches the effect of a non-stop play," says Vishnu.
Each player complemented the other and seems to have understood the nuances of the variety of characters they played, well. Most of jokes were well-received but it was the final sketch between Michelangelo and the Pope that had every one in splits.

A queer Michelangelo asserts his artistic freedom by painting three Christs, 28 disciples, cabaret dancers and kangaroos in his Last Supper, and the Pope (called Popy by Michelangelo) takes objection to it. What follows is a hilarious exchange on whom to be included in the painting with Karthik Kumar as Michelangelo and Sunil Vishnu as the Pope being at their comic best.
The rest of the cast and dancers comprised Jimmy, Karthik Srinivasan, Manoj Kumar, Karuna Amarnath, Megha Radhakrishnan, Divya, Chaya, Aishwarya and Srinidhi. Sketches portrayed were exasperating like that of a person who wanted to buy an argument and that of an illiterate looking for a David Copperfield, which is spelt with a single `p', while the location darted from book shops to market place to that of a murder scene. "Python Hyssssteria is akin to a stress buster," says Vishnu. That it well was with its seamless comedy!