A rendezvous with God

The description of a play on its invitation card is not always correct. Like the one that read, ‘a perfect chance to have a rendezvous with God’ for Anurag Kashyap’s When God said Cheers.

The credits were impressive with names like Anurag Kashyap as the writer, Tom Alter as one of the actors and Cyrus F Dastur as director. The play has covered almost every nook and corner of the country since it was conceptualised. So, was this particular show that Metrolife witnessed at Hotel Golden Tulip, Chhattarpur was justified in its choice of venue?
Maybe not. 

As one entered a huge hall, where many wedding receptions would have taken place, the stage set up with a bright red background caught everyone’s attention. Set up for the play, the stage depicted a bar that was soon occupied by the waiter (Vikrant Sakhalkar), a female singer (Auxilia Sequeirra) and two customers – one young (Cyrus F Dastur) and one old (Tom Alter).

The story that thus unfolds is centred mainly around two customers. Tom plays ‘God’, a character that was earlier rendered by Anurag himself while Cyrus continues to play the young chap who enters the pub unknowing that he would meet God. The two then discuss life over a pint of beer!

The narrative endeavours to look deeper into some of the crucial aspects of human life today. It explores serious issues that mankind is grappling with while maintaining underlying humour. There are references to wars, religious differences, urge for vengeance and vile practices that have been adopted by humanity at large.

While Man blames God, God holds Man responsible for the wrong doings. The tussle gives the audience a chance to relate itself to the questions that Man asks and at times find solace in the suggestive answers that God offers.

The script was strong but came apart because some things just did not work - literally! From technical glitches in sound (actors were given hand mikes to speak their dialogues) to bad lighting (that caused larger-than-life shadows on the set and bleached out actors’ faces) and delay in starting time, everything went horrifically wrong. Yet, the cast bravely plowed on with pasted smiles. While one appreciates the effort, critically speaking, the performance was below par too.

While Tom maintained his style (except for saying Cheers after every dialogue), Cyrus’ acting skills were restricted to his face. The latter’s body language sent out vibes of a director enacting a part to make an actor understand, rather than an actor essaying his role! Even his attempted comic punches failed to rouse laughter.

It was, however, Vikrant aka Waiter who was at his best in both – playing his part as well as giving the voiceover for the voice from heaven! Auxilia’s melodic voice raised the audience spirits, who were entertained by her sonorous voice.

Overall, the story borrowed from Karen Armstrong’s book, A History of God is the only strand on which the play managed to sail through.

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