A play within a play

in pursuit

A play within a play

Recently, New Delhi’s much acclaimed theatre group, ‘Stagedoor’, premiered its humourous thriller titled ‘Murder’ at the ITC Gardenia. For the 350-odd people who attended, the 110-minute long play was definitely an unexpected — but thoroughly captivating — experience.

The complicated but well executed ‘play within a play’ concept was used to establish the production’s premise – murder is promising but not ‘that’ promising!


The plot revolves around the life of a thriller playwright, Sidney Brules, who was shown the original draft of a script written by a younger playwright, Clifford Anderson. When Brules realises the kind of money the script is worth, he plots Anderson’s murder along with his reluctant wife. As one thing leads to another, the wife is killed — as predicted by Brules’ psychic neighbour Helga Telgor, played brilliantly by Virat Husain.

Her character was the most intriguing and witty, with lines like, “Never could I enjoy a game of hide and seek; it was too easy,” which left the audience in splits.

As the plot unwinds, the audience is left gasping, laughing and sitting on the edge of their seats. It all builds up to the climax, where all but one has been murdered in a fevered pursuit of money, success and fame.

“I think the acting was tremendous. Each actor was so typical of the role they had to play. I was quite skeptical, but I was pleasantly surprised,” says Sandhya, a member of the audience. “The twists and turns kept it interesting. To keep a sense of suspense in a rarified atmosphere like this is quite amazing,” she adds. While the elaborate set with maces, shields, typewriters and al fireplace greatly helped create a feel of the characters on stage, the actors’ accent was disliked by many in the audience.

“I feel that the protagonist should have dropped the British accent. It kept waning and distracting from the overall impression,” says Aubrey Millet, who attended the play. “Otherwise, the acting and lighting, especially, were quite good. We came prepared for a light, enjoyable play and it was exactly that.”

Aamir Raza Husain, the director of the play, says it was just the kind of reception they were expecting. “We enjoy an audience being so close and hearing them react to the subtleties of a performance. This is like a drug addiction — unless you get your daily shot, you feel like you’re going bananas,” says Husain with a smile.

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