The romance through letters

The romance through letters

Delicate Relationship

Writing letters in today’s day and age may not be the most common trend. But back in the early 1900s, a series of letters were sent between Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw and stage actress Stella Campbell.

That correspondence-based love story was recreated in ‘Dear Liar’ a play recently performed at Chowdaiah Memorial Hall.

Written by Jerome Kilty, directed by Satyadev Dubey and starring Naseeruddin Shah and Ratna Pathak Shah, the production was a light-hearted glance into the
power of love and words.

It explored how the playwright fell for the charm of the proud actress while she adored his mischievous mind. Moreover, it underlined the delicate relationship between two lovers who were married but not to each other.

A reflection of the times that the romance took place in, the play depicted England and America in the twentieth century, the Great Depression, the Armistice and the World Wars. From playful flirtations to the bitterness of war, every emotion that can possibly be felt was brought out.

There were the occasional monologues, like Naseeruddin’s intimate recollection of his deceased mother. But most of the play proceeded as conversations between the two, sometimes in person and often as letters being read out. Towards the end, Shakespeare’s famous ‘Life is but a walking shadow’ speech from ‘Macbeth’ also found its place.

Being the actors that they are, they even made the accents sound natural, be it Ratna’s cockney lines portraying Eliza Dolittle in ‘Pygmalion’ or Naseeruddin’s fluent Irishness. The dialogues added to the memorable experience and made for a unique sense of humour with lines like ‘Solitude is wonderful but not when you’re alone’, ‘I wish I could fall in love without telling the world’ and ‘Laugh and the world laughs with you; snore and you sleep alone’.

The show was performed in association with India Foundation for the Arts (IFA) and was a big hit with the audience, who gave the actors a prolonged standing ovation. “According to me, the acting was just natural and brilliant and there were hardly any blemishes. To keep up energy levels and stay in character for two hours the way they did was quite a feat. Even when it came to the minutest of things, it showed how much practice went into it,” said Vikram, an attendee.

Neharika, another audience member, adds, “It’s been a while since I watched a play that had me laughing throughout. The humour was subtle but a refreshing change from the stuff one sees these days.”