Watched Butter and Mashed Bananas at Ranga Shankara today.
Butter and Mashed Bananas is a play written and directed by Ajay Krishnan, peroformed by Haraami Theatre Group (Googling for them sadly brings up pages full of expletives). It is the story of a boy born to unusual circumstances and unusual parents. The boy grows up to become a world famous author, attends pseudo coctail parties and becomes a politician who tries to speak "the truth". The play came highly recommended with many awards and performance at the Prithvi Theatre festival in Bombay.
The incisive humour was refreshing. The play takes a dig at the pseudo-ism that has permeated our lives, from feminists to fundamentalists. The boy is born to a passionate and illicit relationship between a communist-feminist and a fundamentalist-right wing, and speculation about his political inclinations is rife even before his birth. His impending birth seems to be full of so many choices that he obstinately refuses to come out of his mother’s womb. The story then weaves along to the adult, an internationally acclaimed writer, celebrated by the media, lapped up by pseudo-intellectuals. There is a long tirade against the censor board, and then the boy finds a political voice, which gets drowned in the (again illicit) romance between the Prime Minister and the Leader of Opposition. Free speech is curbed, and so are the words and the lexicon, voice is killed.
What was really good about the play was the satire, a comedy poking like a pin at our society and tickling the audience. Politics, moral policing, pseudo-intellectualism was debunked, splitting them open, audience splitting in laughter. The acting of the guy who played the father (I could not find this info anywhere on the net — they should really have a website — it sounded like Gunjan to me) was amazing, excellent comic timing, great stage presence, and an outstanding performance overall. The other characters were also well played, but it would have been better if the mother had been a little more effiminate :)
The use of music was also great, it gets absorbed in the flow and was non-intrusive. In fact, it makes the performance all the more entertaining. The actors were wearing ghunghroos on one of the feet, and a lot of abstract art made it very absorbing. The props were few but well used. In fact, in most cases were abstract objects made out of a sheet of white cloth.
Most of the play was very well choreographed, the actors moving in perfect sync, in both body and voice. It was evident that it had been practiced well. In fact, a lot of places, the actors got away with their acting because the choreography was well done. At the same time, a few places, one got the feeling that the choreography was forced, the dance movements intruding the context, confusing the audience. It also seemed puerile at times — excess of anything is bad, if it is good choreograhy.
A very good watch overall, an excellent way to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon, and with a little bit of editing would have been perfect!