Saturday, April 14, 2007

Deccan Herald Review - Friday, February 17, 2006.

Dynamics of relationship canvassed in ‘Art’

By Savitha G R

Day two of the Deccan Herald Theatre Festival had the audience laughing, clapping, even hooting. ‘Art’ by theatre troupe Gnatak, directed by Prakash Aswani, is the tale of three friends. One of them, Serge buys a piece of ‘art’, a white canvas, which sets off a debate between his friends, Yvan and Marc. There are extreme positions taken on art, modernity and classicism, apart from introspection into the very nature of friendship between the trio.

The play, written by Yasmina Reza, was ‘discovered’ by actor Sean Connery, and was translated into English by Christopher Hampton. ‘Art’ poses quite a challenge to the director in portraying the dynamics of relationships and the contradictions between friends. The actors, Michael Joseph who plays Marc, Rohit Dave, who plays Serge and K T Abraham, who plays Yvan play their parts well. The audience takes to Yvan “the fool” particularly well. But one wonders if, in the midst of all the humour, the pathos that Yvan portrays is lost. Yvan wants to conform, be Mr Nice Guy to both his friends, and play conciliator. He cannot have a strong opinion, an amoeba in the words of his friend Marc, and he knows it. It saddens him, but does it move the audience, one wonders.

The set design by Gerard Sequeira is stark and simple, in keeping with the theme.

There is a certain whiteness everywhere, even in the metaphor that Marc uses towards the end of the play (a man skiing down a white mountain with a white cloud in the background) and that was very much in keeping with the central theme, the white canvas too.

The way the spotlight (Lights by Sudhir Boury) keeps shifting on the three characters when they talk to the audience is interesting.

But at the end of the play, one cannot but wonder if this play had more to do with Yvan and less to do with the tensions between the characters.

The image of Yvan with a punched jaw, writhing in pain, lingers.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

We done this show of ART in Trichur and I've been telling every one that this show definately deserves a space in this Gnatak blog.
Yeah this is how it started. A certian Mr Vasudevan Pillai reknpwnwd critic and theatre personality of Kerala who was also the ex H O D of the School Of Drama- Trichur saw our show at Trinvandrum and felt that we deserved to perform at the School of Drama. Yes I was very Impressed. So when the oppturnity came Trough the reccomendation Of this reknowned gentleman we are invited to perform fat the School Of Drama as a part of their World Theatre Day celeberations. Very impressed again.
We reach Trichur on the day of the show take an auto and start searching for the school of drama.After a reasonably long search we suddenly see this guy - It wasn't the Blue and Yellow and Black pyjama he was wearing that made him look different from the normal mentally deranged person that you see on the road, nor was his blue velvet shiet with red frills nor was the bell on his hands and legs nor the Dark glasses the bandana and cap but it was the Camcoder in one had and the gutiar in the other that set him apart.
We find our way to the School of Drama and we find this Man there He comes up to me and says " So your Abraham I've been reading the mail you been sending us" and I'm confused. So was Mike and Harvey and Loki. So we make it to the canteen for the usal Chai and cigerette and this guy is there so we make discreet enquires and find out that this guy is the H O D of the School. Very Impressed. Any way we move to the space where we are to perform and begin to set up and we are told that the H O D is retiring and was being formally send off with all honours a University would send off a H O d and our performance was a part of this formal send off. Ver very impressed and touched.
So we ask for the stage and lights to be set up and we leave for lunh get back to the hall at 5 for our 7 Oclock performance. We come in and on the stage are these dignatories Departments heads Old students and who ever deserves to be on the Dias to send of a H O D. There are these solemn send off speaches and this huge heavy solemn air during these send off when suddenly there is this shout of "Rage" from the dias which is echoed by shouts from the audience soon these shouts become more and more frequent and sonn there is this shouting match between this well dressed man with a gutiar on the dias and the audience - I dont Know who won. But most of the other solemn speaches were reduced to a " Mr H O d is a good man wish him well and Good bye".
Many shouting matches later students start singing praises to the H O D. They go ga ga over the fact that this Mr. H O D had managed to do away with what ever little disipline the department had. Until one moment when the H O D realised that the women hadn't spoken so he asks a few wordsfrom the women. One girl comes up with this sentimental story of her first visit to the school and that she'd seen the H O d and she thought he was strange she went home and her father told her that the H O d was his friend and Died. Ever since she has this soft corner for the H O D. H O D is moved and immediately breaks into song he plkucks his guitar as well as any 2 year old and sings "You are my unborn daughter" we are all moved. When another girl stands up and says that alls not well because when this H O D or the other male lecturers teach they prefer to look at womens breasts rather than their faces. The guys in the hall are unimpressed and show their displeasure by throwing chairs. Soon there are two groups slanging pushing throwing chairs and a few punches into the air. Mr H O D breaks into song again " Fight Fight" He plays his gutiar - he actually cant play a gutiar and on occiations runs back stage to tell us so. to tell you the truth we had realised much earlier that he cant play the gutiar. Any way thats that and many fights later we find a mango tree otside stripped of its leaves. I've been told that during the fight guys ran out of the hall climbed this tree and started biting off its leaves and ran back inside straight into the fight. Soon it was 8 O clock and we were to perform at 7 so we call some guys from the midst of the fight to set up our lights for us. we start setting up the fight disappears> H O D appears and wants to Know why there are no women inthe play. Tommy has a hard time telling him why and we perform 180 of the 200 odd people who would have seen the show went back home the fight was enough drama for them. Yes and we perform. Personally I feel it was a good show. I'm not sure if Tommy agrees and I'm sure all the guys would be honoured if we were to be called to perform for the world theatre day celeberation at the School of Drama again. especially if the H O D is being send off.