Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A Funny Thing Called War: Seriously Good

It’s the new kids on the block…the theatre block to be precise. Tahatto is one of the newest entrants to the theatre scene in Bangalore. Last fortnight, they came out with their maiden production called ‘A Funny Thing Called War’, a comedy. This is its review. But this is not funny. This is serious.

Let’s start from the posters and the pre-event communication. I thought the poster was very well-designed with no clutter and just the name of the play and the details of the venue and time. Of course there was the mention that it was a funny play based on the Black Adder series. It was simple and straightforward. What took the cake was the photograph used on the poster – a picture of the entire cast in their costumes and wearing as serious an expression as possible when the title actually said ‘A Funny Thing Called War’ I thought it grabbed the requisite amount of attention and got the message across.

The event was publicized also through Facebook, newspapers and the Opus weekly update had a mention too. So on the publicity front the production was pretty much there.

As one entered the venue – Opus in the Creek – on the day of the premiere, one was given a handout labelled ‘Top Secret’ outlining basic things like the background of the play, where it is based (for those who aren’t too familiar with the Black Adder series I presume) and the cast and production team. The font used on the handout was Courier and the text used standard war and secret service terminology, all of which went very well with the theme of the play. Quite well done. Sample this from the ‘Location’ section: We could tell you where, but then we would have to kill you.

The set was done up in a basic but effective manner given that the play takes place in the trenches. The stage was used well by the characters at most times and they seemed to know their place well on the stage. The lights and sound co-ordination is what impressed me the most as it was flawless. Very well done…the light during the scenes where it is supposed to be dark, the voice-overs during the phone calls…everything was up to the mark. Another remarkable thing about the sound was that although the characters were using microphones suspended from the roof, they were quite audible. Full marks to the cast for effective voice modulation and volume control since it is very easy for the voice to be lost when using microphones!

The costumes were great and the cast looked perfect. So were the props being used in the play. No complaints on that front either.

Coming to the acting, I have to say for a first time production it was wonderful. All the requisite expression of a typical British comedy (which is what the Black Adder series was) were captured well. My best memory from the play is that of Bob played by Preethi Suresh…Bob is a driver – a girl dressed up as a boy who just wants to witness a war. Captain Black Adder spots that he is a girl but keeps it secret on her request. Now everytime there is a joke or a funny situation Bob starts to laugh like a girl and after attracting weird stares from everyone straightens up and laughs in a more deep voice and curt manner. Preethi did that wonderfully well. I’ll just never forget that. But yes, all the characters were right up there when it came to the acting and expressions.

So what didn’t work?

The venue. To anyone who is looking at staging a play, I would strongly suggest against considering Opus in the Creek. Understandably, it is a venue more suited for small concerts and musical performances (even there it is not the most perfect place going by my Soulmate experience). It is open, it is spread out and it is distracting. On top of that, that tree in the middle ends up blocking some bit of the stage or another from the right side. I couldn’t help getting distracted more than once.

Also, at some points the voice of General Melchett (played by Vaisakh Sankar) became muffled and I felt the words ran into each other. His volume was good but the pace and the manner in which he delivered the dialogues came in the way of clarity. I had to strain myself to understand what was being said but it could just be me.

Going by the fact that the venue was not really a technical flaw in the play, A Funny Thing Called War gets away with just one minor glitch in my opinion and that is more than splendid for a first production. And that warrants that as it grows Tahatto will only do a better job with each production.

For now, at a more theatre-oriented venue, ‘A Funny Thing Called War’ by Tahatto is a play you should definitely catch for its performances and the entertainment it provides.

Over and Out.

9 Thinkers Pondered:

Badarivishal said...

Hey Anupama,
A great review. So far we had read articles written by the production team and the press. Getting an audience perspective and that too from one who has seen the production from close quarters was really refreshing. The glitches will surely be handled for future shows.
May all the cunning plans work...
Badri :)

The Learner.... said...

This - indeed is a great review.

Thanks a ton, this means a lot . . .

Keep writin, Lov n luck

Anupama said...

Hey Badari,

Amen and thank you for the comment :)...welcome to the blog

Hey Smriti,

Welcome to the space and thanks for the comment :)

numerounity said...

It was so interesting that I am eager for it’s Kolkata schedule, if there’s any.

wander1ust said...

Great review, Anu. Your attention to detail is splendid. Keep it up!

vaisakhshankar said...

Hey Anupama,

Thanks for the feedback! Will certainly work on the clarity part. DO come watch us again! :)


Eveline said...

Love the review!! I so want catch this play now after reading this post of yours, except is there another show??

ashwin said...

Amazing review. It covered all aspects of a production. Not many people who review do that. Anu, you should do this for a living :)

Anupama said...

Hey Ekta!

I have passed on word to the group and I hope they get to perform in Kolkata soon :) ...thanks for the comment...

Hey Vaisakh,

You're such a sweet sport...needless to say I will always be there to show solidarity for Tahatto and contribute in more ways. All the best :)

Hey Eve!

Yes there are definitely more shows at venues like Kyra and Alliance Francais...I'll keep you posted about the schedule :)

Hey Ashwin!

Thank you so much :) ...will take your word and try and work on that bit...