Trouble and hilarity galore in suite 719

Last Updated 04 August 2014, 15:37 IST

Neil Simon’s Plaza Suite can be a formidable play, thanks to its context of the America of 1960s, a changed socio-cultural scenario which renders the attitudes demonstrated unrea-listic, and not to mention, the hugely stretched script.

Precisely the reason you won’t find it staged in Delhi, which loves it Hinglish slapstick comedies, too often.It is against this background that Dramatech’s recent rendition of Plaza Suite came as a textbook example of how a western classic ought to be adapted, translated and performed for an Indian audience.

Director Nayana Sagar transplanted Simon’s Plaza suite no. 719 in New York to a hotel in Lonavala, Mumbai; the staid New York couples were replaced with caustic warring Indian husband-wife pairings; and the diplomatic exchanges between them were tempered with some quintessential desi punch lines.

Put together with a lavish set, stylish costumes and some tremendous performances, Dramatech executed Plaza Suite with typical élan. The audience at Shri Ram Centre for Performing Arts (SRCPA) lapped it up with whistles and hoots at every other dialogue and applause at the end of every Act.

Plaza Suite was authored by American playwright and screenwriter Neil Simon in 1968. It opened on Broadway the same year and closed in 1970 with 1,097 performan-ces and great reviews. Its
resounding success led to the play being adapted into a film by the same name in 1971 by Arthur Miller.

Several other films followed on the stories written by Simon in the same series in subsequent years.
Plaza Suite consists of three acts, all played out in Suite no. 719 of Plaza Hotel in NY. In the first act, a middle-aged housewife attempts to ‘seduce’ her husband into the hotel room where they had celebrated their honeymoon 24 years back.

The husband constantly thwarts her attempts at a reunion disputing even the year of their marriage and the suite they spent their wedding night in. Eventually it turns out that he’s having an affair with his secretary.

The second act has a hotshot Hollywood producer meeting his college sweetheart who is now a married woman and mother of three. The two get together for a drink only to realise that the chemistry between them is very much alive and kicking. The third act -- the most hilarious one -- has a husband and wife driving themselves nuts over their daughter who has developed cold feet just before her wedding and locked herself in the bathroom.

Nayana Sagar has given her own twist to these inherently comic situations. So the woman in the second act is a Marathi cine buff who is evading and yet giving in to the advances of her Bollywood producer friend uttering deva re deva at the end of every line. And the couple in the last act are no ordinary pairing but a South-Indian woman married to a Punjabi man creating the premise for an uproarious script and dialogues.

The director’s vision is ably supported by all the actors, most notably, Sneha Kandoi as Rekha Sawant, Abhishek Kumar as Jaani Screwvala, Ekant Kaul as Colonel Sonu Kapoor and the director
herself, Nayana Sagar as Vyjayanthi Kapoor.

The length of the play – an issue noticed long back with Simon’s script itself – is still an irritant, but Sagar promises to address the same in the shows to come.All in all, Dramatech’s rendition is a great way to re-familiarise yourself with Neil Simon’s classic Plaza Suite.  

(Published 04 August 2014, 15:37 IST)

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