A fictional house mired in suspense

From glasses and mugs to a register, a lot of things suspended from strings hang in different clusters. At the back, squares of wallpaper are also hung up.

The stage design compels one to becurious but instead one gets shocked when two young men enter and soon fall on the bed to make love with their lips locked!

Taken aback by the first scene of Frontier Theatre’s new production The Pad, one feels almost difficult to sit through the entire duration of 90 minutes.

But the intimate auditorium at Alliance Francaise dissuades one to leave.

The decision in turn proves fruitful for as the narrative unfolds, the sexual relationship between Pulkit (Saattvic – also the director) and Sahil (Daniel D’Souza) transforms into a love story that evolves on another relationship – between Fabian (Capt Sanjay Nath) and Jennifer (Kitu Gidwani).

The two couples get linked to each other due to the house, which Saattvic designs with his brilliant imagination.

“I spotted these artifacts at a friend’s house warming party in Mumbai. His place looked like a residence in 1950 countryside England,” says Saattvic who collected these objects belonging to a real couple, Fabian and Jennifer.

Being an economist professionally and a trained classical singer, it wasn’t difficult for Saattvic to pull off the role of Pulkit, the practical banker who has a hidden past.

It is, however, the character of Sahil, ably executed by Daniel, who appeals to the audience with his adorable act of innocence.

Through his dialogues, the issues of LGBT community seeking “respect” are depicted on stage. Even his search for a perfect house where “there are no unfulfilled energies” due to even number of doors and windows, is suggestive of everyone’s desire for a partner. 

But more importantly, the gay couple’s story is only one part of the plot.

The actors portray their characters in such sophistication that one feels bound to believe that there could be anyone in that relationship, in place of the two young men.

More so, for the intrusion of ‘element of love’ by the director who steers the tale aesthetically henceforth.

The story of Fabian and Jennifer runs parallel and finds its rightful space in the thoughts of the two young men. The suspense in the lives of this husband-wife is sustained till the very end through the mention of a character ‘Nita’ – their  daughter-in-law.

While one guesses all possible things that would have gone wrong with Nita, the truth emerges far from imagination.

But the director does provide a hint by intelligently setting up Fabian’s ‘nightmare scene’ with stage lit in only red and the character being beaten up by other actors.

Quite cinematic in approach, the scene repeats in the last section, bringing the story to a full circle.

In between, the wonderfully delivered actions and intense expressions of seasoned female actor Kitu seek attention due to her meticulously planned portrayal of an
Anglo-Indian woman.    
       
For a pleasant change, the actors don’t waste much time switching between scenes.

They make quick entries even before those present have exited, thus presenting
a holistic view of the house in its past and the present.     

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