A theatrical 'weekend cocktail'
Tevye Wins a Fortune by Sholom Aleichem, Roald Dahl’s thriller Lamb to the Slaughter and W Somerset Maugham's Mr Know All not only saw some excellent acting but also superb singing by the actors. Without a doubt, it compared with any three-hour Bollywood musical and left the audience at Alliance Francaise asking for more.
The director Ravi Raj Sagar- a 1978 IIT (D) graduate, explained, “We were looking for stories which could lend themselves to dramatisation and I remembered Tevye..., Lamb... and Mr Know All- stories which had stayed with me since school time. Not only were these short stories with interesting endings but also allowed me to put in some beautiful songs.”
“The small cast allowed us to perfect the performances and our five-year experience in doing musicals came in handy. We got the best singer-actors possible from various choirs in Delhi and delivered the Weekend Cocktail.”
Tevye wins a fortune is one of the stories on the popular character of Tevye penned by celebrated Yiddish writer Sholom Aleichem. Tevye, a poor Jewish horse-cart puller with a wife and seven daughters to feed, has nothing to offer his family on Sabbath but good humour and wishes. He meets two rich ladies lost in a dark forest and the chance encounter turns his fortunes.
Reuben Israel, who played Tevye to perfection, and sang some beautiful Yiddish songs like If I Were a Rich Man and Dana Dana, explained, “In the 1900s, Jews in Russia were badly persecuted. Sholom, a Jew, having experienced the same fate, essayed Tevye’s story.”
“The good part, however, being that Tevye never loses hope. He is full of life, humour and belief in God. He is able to laugh at himself and his problems and that is what endears him to the audience.”
Roald Dahl’s Lamb to the Slaughter, in contrast, brought some suspense to the evening. An armyman walks into his house one evening and declares to his six-month pregnant wife that he wants to separate. The initially disbelieving wife flies into a rage and murders her husband. Then begins the story of the wife cleverly dodging the cops and rescuing herself.
Madhu K Rajesh essayed the role of Mary- the wife perfectly and expertly sang the classic Tea for two and two for tea. She added cheekily, “This character brings out the basic instinct of a woman who can be a loving sweet wife, but also extract her revenge when cheated in love. I get a lot of satisfaction playing this role as I am a married woman and I guess the ladies in the audience enjoy it too. So far, I have played this character 13 times, and I have had 13 khoon maaf in all.”
Lastly came W. Somerset Maugham's Mr. Know All- a hearty comedy about a man who is jovial, knowledgable, talkative and irritating too. He boards an ocean liner and all are tired of his non-stop chatter till a certain incident brings to light his heart of gold.
Rakesh K Gupta, additional secretary, UPSC, who played Mr. Kalader- the know all, expressed, “This character is quite opposite to who I am, but once in a while, it is nice to play a mischievous man. After all, a naughty character lurks inside each of us, only waiting to come out on opportunities like these.”