All boom no balance
There was a lot of talent in the young and enthusiastic actors, but they surely needed a generous helping of guidance
PHOTO: V. SREENIVASA MURTHY
ENGAGING The play was strongly rooted in movement and sound
It is a common tendency to dismiss children's writing as easy because of the sheer simplicity of its themes. However, children's writing and performances based on children's writing, must walk a thin line, between simplicity and frivolity or preachiness ability that Dr. Seuss weilds masterfully. Sadly, the Dr. Seuss inspired Boom Bands performed by Masrah, failed where the author masterfully succeeds.
The play, strongly rooted in movement and sound, juxtaposes five stories from different stages of life over a central thread that borrows from Dr. Seuss's Oh the places you'll go. Loosely woven anecdotes form the substance of an attempt by the performers to know where one is and where one is going a little girl has a strong imagination; an older one is eager to be like her sister; friends go on a soul-searching expedition that brings them closer only to be ripped apart by the nitty-gritties of daily life; a woman is stuck in a daily grind that varies only as much as the day's television listings and a poet reminisces over the good old days and a lost love.
The performance lasted a little over one hour, and displayed a fair deal of potential. The script was jocular and moderately interesting and managed to keep the audience engaged throughout the performance. All the performers displayed a great deal of energy and managed to maintain a lively stage presence throughout the evening. The play used a wide range of interesting props that adequately supported the performance, from bright and festive curtains to super-sized dice that orient the performance well with the children's literature genre. There are a number of interesting innovations in the performance such as a game of snakes and ladders played on a curtain with faces representing snakes and ladders, and paintings done on stage in the course of the performance. The performance also made excellent use of the stage space and gave it a layered feel at various points in the performance.
However, while Boom Bands shows potential, it also makes many of the mistakes that frequently occur in most amateur productions. The various characters, particularly the children, failed to go beyond the obvious and were shaped instead by merely superficial observations. While the means of representing ideas were interesting, the production tended to overuse ideas that seemed to click. The scene featuring two soul-searching friends, for instance, loses its effect because it draws on interminably without an end in sight. What was said could have been said more effectively in far fewer words and actions. Similarly, the overly large piece involving the poet, said almost completely in Hindi, tends to lose its effect after a point. The temporal placement of pieces was also not well thought out as the high-energy movement sections tended to be bunched together in the first half of the play while the second half talked a lot more.
Boom Bands was an interesting performance and showcased a fair amount of talent in a young bunch of enthusiasts. However, Masrah would do well to seek more tempering and guidance, so that they might learn to walk the thin line that Dr. Seuss does so well.
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Chennai and Tamil Nadu