A New Twist on Mythology – The New Indian Express
Express press service
Five minutes into director Feisal Alkazi’s new play, one of the choir members sings: “Stories are the world and all that is beyond the world”. Alkazi’s Devayani – an exploration of a tale from the Mahabharata – graciously confirms this assertion. The opening performance of the play, which took place at the International Center of India, Lodhi Estate, on Friday, was an ideal curtain raiser for the 50th anniversary season of Ruchika Theater Group, a theater group established in 1972.
The 90-minute play is based on the legend of five lesser-known Mahabharata characters: Devyani, Kacha, Sharmishtha, Yayati, and Guru Shukracharya. Alkazi explores discourses of love, society and power through the lens of genre, delivering it through a flawless two-act plot. Characters question, adapt, and embrace dilemmas that arise from their dharma (moral duty) and adharma (iniquity).
Alkazi places the tale at a time when the epic’s conventional characters and storyline meet contemporary interpretations. Although the story takes place in an alternate world, a parallelism with the current world was not hard to ignore. “The timelessness comes from the question of the genre represented. It’s a totally patriarchal society that this woman lives in and if she has any power it’s through marriage and it’s the same to this day,” Alkazi explained.
The audience listened with delight to Alkazi’s idyllic words, poetically written and spoken. Elements of physical theater such as mime, gesture, etc. remained central to the performance. The movement vocabulary drawn by Alkazi and choreographer Vishwakant Singha also completed the entire plot.
The role of the chorus not only extended a sense of structure to the play, but also added a tinge of humor and drama to it. The actors performed their roles convincingly. Along with the performances, the fluid musical design, as well as the images created by powerful words, eliminated any need for props or elaborate decor. These words, in fact, were enough to transport the audience to another dimension.
Speaking about his experience working on the play, Arnav Michael, who played the role of Yayati, shared, “The play helped me get rid of my inhibitions, one being shirtless and the other doing intimate scenes. We have a great cast, an excellent director and choreographer. It all got mixed up. »
Minakshi Arora from Gurugram, who was here to watch the piece, concluded, “I think it was unique, out of the box, and very different from what Feisal normally does. It was very expressive and I enjoyed it very much.