A Play Within A Play

It was a humid Sunday evening in Tambaram. I quickly got down from the stairs leading to first platform of the railway station. I rejoiced under the fan , fighting with the rivers of sweat tumbling down from my head. Suddenly, I saw passengers getting down from the train and moving towards the third platform. The announcer said that the next train would leave from third platform. So I rushed towards that train. I had to take a train as soon as possible to reach the venue of ” The Hindu theatre fest “. Five minutes later we again heard the announcer saying that the train would leave from the first platform. In addition to that , there was a customary lame apology. So, we ran again. We complained and cursed the announcer. But everyone ran because they had no other choice. It appeared as if it was a badly scripted scene of a play So, I got down at the Chetpet station and asked an auto driver about the address. He talked as if was he was an old horse in that area. He told me that we had to take a round about turn and then reach the place as some metro construction was going on. I agreed and hired the auto. A few minutes later I was standing in front of a sweet shop called “Shri Mithai” .  I was pissed off. Then I became angry as the auto driver started blaming me for the misunderstanding. I used the choicest of swear words in Kannada to curse him.  He just struck to ‘Sri Mutha’ and interpreted it as ‘Sri Mithai’ . Fortunately, that hiccup didn’t spoil my evening . I was at the venue in time.  That made me feel irritated. Another bad scene.

It was a sort gala gathering. Ladies were dressed elegantly. Aunties were dressed extravagantly. And all the uncles were distracted. [ *chuckles * ]. By the way, I looked like a kid who had escaped from a college hostel. There was no dearth of beauty or colorful flowers in front of the venue. Nobody seemed to be interested to make use of this uniquely strategic situation. I got into the hall, took a seat and waited for my college senior to enter the hall. She was kind enough to book those tickets herself. I had still not thought about returning the cash. I was introduced to many strangers i.e. her colleagues . I was glad that it was quick and not so tedious.Till the moment we settled into our seats, I didn’t know the name of the play. That was ironical. So , I pulled out my phone and Googled  ‘The Hindu theatre fest ‘. The schedule and all the details popped in front of my eyes. Then I Googled the keywords , i.e  ‘ Noises Off + The Hindu ‘ .  “Next up on August 24 is the zany comedy, Noises Off, directed by Atul Kumar for The Company Theatre. Michael Frayn’s play can be said to be the ‘mother of all play-within-a-play comedies’. It is about a misplaced director and a team of mediocre actors trying to put up a sex comedy. Through the rehearsals and various shows in a run, the play and their interpersonal relationships go from bad to worse. Things reach a disastrous stage when the actors start getting injured physically, forget their lines, make wrong entries and exits, and find themselves improvising poorly to save face and probably the final show.”

I had been going through a not so perfect evening. A play within a play. This packaging of a concept within itself sounded exciting. There was a lot of sarcasm in the beginning. One could not have made out the story or the humor without knowing something about the screenplay. It made sense to me right from the beginning, thanks to that chunk of info. I had a great time for the next two hours. By the end, I felt like noting down a few observations in my mind and thought of sharing it with people.I am pretty sure that many conservative Indians are not aware about adult jokes involving candles. But people tried a bit too hard to join those who got it.  It was as if they were laughing so that they wouldn’t be left out. It happened quite a few times during the performance. It is usually funny when you see people acting on both sides of the stage. Oh, we all do that shit. Let us confess honestly. But it was even more blatant while watching an adult comedy play. But the most important thing about the drama was it’s resemblance to life itself.  No I am not going to make that cliched Shakespearean reference. We all tend to script our lives and rehearse for the same as well. Many times we fuck up during rehearsals. Finally most of us end up improvising during the actual performance. The train platform, the auto that went off the expected route; wrong exits and entries; and then, the play. It all made sense to me as I stared at the ceiling.

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