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Sunday, November 15, 2009

Class of '84: The Review

I was tucking into a delicious mallu lunch at my uncle's place, when a friend called me up asking if I wanted to catch the play, Class of '84. She described it as the story of a class reunion, reminding me of a suspiciously similar musical that I had thoroughly enjoyed circa 1999. Considering the fact that I had nothing better to do, I decided to watch the play. On my way to the NCPA auditorium, I had this thought at the back of my mind that I would have to compare Class of '84 with the aforementioned play.
Thankfully, all that both the performances had in common, was the reunion plot device.
I will not allow myself to get ahead, and I will review the play as best as I can. The stage setting was sparse and simple. Before the play started, we had a fun game of 'Guess what the set represents'. However once the play started, all the (minimal) props on stage were utilized to transport us to a beach house: at certain instances I felt guilty of staring into the private life of seven adults reminiscing their past. The story is simple and straight forward: the funeral of a common friend brings back seven buddies to a beach house, for one night of bonding and nostalgia. The self deprecating humor used to introduce the play gave me a positive impression of the production house, Rage Theater Group. Not many Theater groups, nay people, would be willing to crack a joke at themselves.
The simplest stories usually provide the perfect setting for the most multidimensional screenplays and Rahul Da Cunha (Writer, Director) uses this to full effect. The characters that were etched out were believable: Atleast one of the characters reminded me of people I know. I really liked how the characters frequently broke the fourth wall oh-so-casually to discuss their state of mind. The seven characters (with another getting added later on) collectively covers the whole gamut of human emotions and might as well have been a poster boy for national integration (In your face, MNS, Hah!). Mallu, Punju, Goan, Small towner from outside Delhi and of course, the Mumbaikar: The whole lot is covered. Although the play is based in the aftermath of a funeral, the play is interspered with witty dialogues and hilarious situations, case in point: The scene before the intermission. The sarcasm and dark humor of the play resonated with my personal sense of humor; considering the ROFL audience, I am guessing a lot of other folks felt the same way.
Rahul Da Cunha's job as a director would have been considerably reduced by having such a brilliant star cast. Honestly, I haven't seen most of the star cast perform before, but one can just say that the actors are doing a good job when they incorporate even the most subtle mannerisms of their characters into their body language. I should mention that the actors deserved an extra round of applause for their impeccable sense of comic timing.
My personal favorites in the play were the actors essaying the role of the dope smoking beach bum, the loud Punju (Rajit Kapur) and the lady who was into new age meditation techniques. Although I have mentioned my personal favorites with regards to performances, we were unable to reach a general consensus even in our small group. This just reflects how everyone in the cast put in great performances, each one endearing themselves to a different set of people.
The play doesn't have an eventful climax, rather a few thought provoking questions were mentioned. As the lights came back on, and I got back to the comforting presence of pals from college, I could not but help think on what the future would hold for us. As we were clicking pictures and cracking jokes outside the imposing structure of the NCPA, I felt that theater had given us a cruel peek into the state of our friendship, 20 years ahead of time.

P.S. Since we didn't see any program guide being handed out, I had to rely on this link to help me complete this review.
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