Wednesday, June 20, 2007

"The Deluge"

An engrossing Malayalam play staged here brought to life the Biblical tale of Noah's Ark, but with a twist .

"Pralayam" (The Deluge) was staged at the National School of Drama as part of a theatre festival by Jansanskriti, a socio-cultural organization active in the capital. It deftly uses the deluge to create a context for exposing the implicit violence, injustice and corruption in present-day society. The play, penned by noted writer Omchery N.N. Pillai, was first produced in Delhi 30 years ago. Yet its relevance has only increased with time as was observed by former president K.R. Narayanan, the chief guest at the performance.

The impact of a heavenly revelation to an antediluvian Noah that the world would end in seven days forms its theme.

In the play, a decrepit Noah who cannot even draw a cross by himself is asked to make an ark for saving 1,000 good people, including himself. He succeeds in building an ark in seven days.

Apart from Noah, there are two other main characters - Mrs. Noah, a worldly wise, avaricious and power hungry woman, and Miss Mary, a clear headed, sceptical young secretary of Noah who is more concerned with human beings than god.

Mrs. Noah manages to get in touch with the richest, most powerful people of the world who want to corner most of the seats on the ark. Returning home after building the ark, Noah is thoroughly disheartened. He goes back to the ark just before countdown to make a big leak at the bottom to ensure that all the occupants perish in the sea.

Samkutty Pattomkary, a versatile young theatre personality from Kerala, presented a riveting performance. K.P. Anil Kumar as Noah, M. Sajitha as Mrs Noah and S. Sreekala as Miss Mary rendered outstanding performances.

Unlike in the original play, where Christ appears only as an apparition, in this production he appeared several times bearing a man-sized cross. In the hands of Mrs Noah, the cross becomes a weapon, which is used to kill Miss Mary, the voice of reason. In the original play, Miss Mary is shot.

Earthquakes, hurricanes, torrential rainstorms and tsunami add to the frenzy.

A dummy television with a transparent screen is among the innovations used by Samkutty to bring alive the drama created by the media, which has come to dominate life and influence opinions, sometimes adversely, in the present times.

"The Deluge" highlights the increasing spread of corruption, crime and fear psychosis with the spread of satellite communication. It deals with fundamental questions of injustice, inequality and oppression effectively with a penchant for irony, humour and sarcasm.
The characters have deeper symbolic value, which gives the play a sense of timelessness.

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