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Old classics in a new light

Nov 21, 2012, DHNS:

The stories of the celebrated Russian author Anton Pavlovich Chekhov were portrayed in the play ‘An Evening with Anton Chekhov’, directed by Anmol Vellani. It was staged at the Ranga Shankara recently. The play threw the spotlight on three men, who believed that the root of all their ill fortunes and misery was women.

A scene from the play.It was extremely well-scripted. Adapting Chekhov’s stories to fit into a 70-minute-long play was quite a task — which was managed very well. The expressions and the actions of the actors throughout the play kept the audience entertained. Rajesh, an audience member, says, “I loved the play. It was very different; the long conversations were very interesting. And I must say that the actors were top class. Rarely does one get to see acting of this calibre. I will recommend this play to all my friends.”

The play predominantly comprised of monologues. And yet, at no point did the audience show signs of losing interest. Preethi, another audience member, says, “I found the monologues very interesting. Usually, when only one person is speaking, we tend to lose interest. But in this play, that became the interesting part. I think a major part of today’s success can be attributed to the excellent dialogue delivery by the actors. It was very captivating.”

The witty dialogues in the play were infused with subtle and sarcastic humour. Some of them were — “Telling a lady that you don’t love her is like telling an author that he can’t write,” and, “I have become old — like a squeezed lemon.”

The stage choreography, lighting and background music complemented the play and elevated the audience’s mood. Siddharth, an ardent theatre lover, says, “Anton Chekhov is one of my favourite authors, and I think this was an intelligent adaptation of his short stories. What I liked about the actors were their diction and language — it was truly foreign.”

The director of the play, Anmol Vellani, adds, “This play might lead us to think that Chekhov was an incorrigible misogynist, but that would be to assume — mistakenly — that the playwright is speaking through the voice of his characters. While Chekhov certainly wants to sympathise with his protagonists, he does not share their point of view. He expects us to be as amused as he clearly is by their inflated self-image, by how they misrepresent themselves to the world, and by their lame efforts to hold others responsible for what has befallen them.”


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