The Deccan Herald Theatre Festival came to a close last weekend at Chowdaiah Memorial Hall, with two final productions: ‘Field of Poppies’ and ‘Plaza Suite’. Directed by Puja Goyal, ‘Field of Poppies’ was a surreal piece of theatre with a two-member cast, comprising Tushar Patil and Deepti Laigude.
The production progressed slowly, building anticipation, and included surprising instances of poignancy.
‘Field of Poppies’ revolved around a straitjacketed man named Edward and his rather seductive psychiatrist, Anne. As the play begins, it’s quickly made obvious that Edward — who is trapped in what appears to be an asylum — has no clue who he is or how he got there.
The viewer is left uncertain as to whether the narration is real or a mere dream sequence. Anne clearly knows a lot more about Edward than he does of himself — and through her gentle prodding and questioning, she encourages him to rediscover his past, especially his memories of one particular person.
Through this journey of rediscovery, Edward begins to put together his past, piece by piece. A sense of urgency is introduced half-way through the production, as more memories come tumbling back to him. The dialogues dragged at times and the actors fumbled more than once but despite this, the tension was clearly transmitted to the audience.
Bhandarkar, who attended, says, “It was interesting. I haven’t seen a production like this before. It seemed to pick up in the second half.”
The finale of the festival saw the performance of ‘Plaza Suite’, a play by Neil Simon and directed by Prakash Belawadi. With a common setting of Suite 719 in New York’s Plaza Hotel across the two acts, it explored the humorous interactions between two different couples, each one with their own eccentricities.
The first act revolved around Sam and Karen Nash, celebrating their anniversary in the same suite they had once had their honeymoon in.
While she tries hard to spark the love in their marriage, her plan backfires when her overworked husband confesses to having an affair with his secretary. The sanctity of marriage is brought out as the sarcastic Mrs Nash refuses to show anger and puts him on a guilt trip instead.
“It was very close to life and great fun to watch. The actors were brilliant and very natural! I’ve read the original play and they’ve definitely done justice to it,” shares Rekha Raju, who sat and watched from the front row.
Act two sees an even funnier story, when Norma and Roy Hubley, the parents of a nervous bride-to-be, Mimsey, find their daughter locked up in the bathroom because she’s two minds about going through with the wedding. The parents threaten her to come out in a very slapstick way, making it a delightful vignette in itself.