Theater Review: One On One (A Rage Production)

I watched “One on One”, a Rage production the day before, and found it to be to quite good.  Given that it’s a collection of 10 short stories, the acts ranged from bad to great, but throughout the 2.5 hour show, I could not find   too many flaws in performances. It probably was the director’s vision of the particular act that did not work for me. And I choose the word “for me”, because there were at least a couple of plays which seemed to be amusing/hilarious for quite a few people in the theater, but not for me.

Act 1- The Bureaucrat

Written by Anubav Pal, and direted by Kunaal Roy Kapur

Excellent Play/enactment. A bureaucrat’s perspective through three points in his career, enacted by three actors sharing the stage simultaneously.  , the three stages of the bureaucrat’s life were played by Anand Tiwari (Youngest), Neil Bhoopalam (middle aged) and Bugs Bhargava Krishna (Old). All three of them were brilliant. Just as he was in Hamlet-The Clown Prince, Neil was quite brilliant in this one too. Anand is a dude to watch out for.  Bugs I think has been around the circuit for a while, and his mannerisms were probably the closest to a bureaucrat’s. Overall,  great.

Rank – 2nd

Act 2 – Kachre Ki Hifaazat

Written by Ashok Mishra, Directed by Rajit Kapur, and performed by Yashpal Sharma.

The team was illustrious, the act was not that great. And I blame the story for it. I liked the use of the white kafan as the prop, and Yashpal probably is one of the finest theater actors from the current lot. But overall, beyond a point, the story was too obvious, and there was no spunk in the flow. Made it a little boring after a while. And I think there were at least a couple of occasions, where Yashpal’s character was too loud, which was avoidable.

Rank – 8th

Act 3 – Bash

Written by Neil La Bute, adapted and directed by Rahul Da Cunha (of Class of 84 fame), and performed by Neil and Preetika Chawla.

This one just did not work for me. Touching on a rather sensitive theme of how homosexuality is perceived as a sickness by many people in the city, and how the inner violent rages take over without us noticing it, there was something terribly amiss with this one. Not the acting for sure. Neil was good. Preetika was quite good as well. But again, barring a couple of moments, rather than portraying the dark side of things, I felt that the play trivialized a lot of the dark sentiments it touched upon.

Rank– 10th

Act 4 – White on White

Written by Maia Katrak, directed by Pushan Kripalani and Enacted by Shernaz Patel and Imran Adil.

I can’t understand why they put Imran in the play, because he just sat there with his back to the audience throughout. Not a dialogue, not a significant movement. He was a prop, and a  non-human prop could have been as good. Shernaz’s performance started a little shaky, but by the end of the act, you could empathize with all her emotions of a mother. The dialogues were a little overbearing and heavy, but I felt Shernaz did a decent job carrying them through. Overall, I would classify it as an average play.

Rank – 6th.

Act 5 – Load-Shedding.

Written by Farhad Sorabjee, directed by Nadir Khan and performed by Anand Tiwari.

Now, this one was hilarious, and executed brilliantly. Anand’s performance as the lamp-post was the finest performance of the evening, his gags were relevant and hilarious, and his closing act with little dialogues and a lot of facial expressions was a clincher. Rather than talk a lot more, I would encourage everyone to go for the inauguration of XYZ International Pedestrian Crossing aani Lamp-post. This one

Rank – 1st, and by  a good margin.

Act 6- Aabodana

Written by Purva Naresh, directed by Akash Khurana, and performed by Preetika and Anand.

Very light, very involved and very flowing. It was a pretty good performance by the leads, and the stories of outsiders struggling to become insiders and losing a lot of their small-townness in the process was very touching. I am sure the connect is stronger for those who are small towners in their heart. Chote se hi Chote shehar me pale-badhe chote log jo bade shehro mein apni pehchaan dhoondh rahe hain (that’s an old campus dialogue between me and a couple of friends). Aab is water and Dana is food, btw.

Rank – 5th

Act 7 – Hello Check.

Written and Directed by Rahul Da Cunha, and performed by Anu Menon (Lola Kutty of Channel V).

This one was the second worst of the lot. And I tried to like it this way or the other, because there were a whole bunch of people around me who were in splits, I just could not get myself to connect with the party of a socialite inventing acronyms for all kinds of societies that she had joined.  The only funny part of the play was MNS – Murder Navjot Sidhu.

Rank – 9th, and I don’t want to talk about this one!

Act 8 – Dear Richard –

Written by Oliver Beale, adapted by Nadir Khan and Akarsh Khurana, Directed by Nadir, and performed by Rajit Kapur.

Its an open letter to Richard Branson about the quality of inflight services aboard a virgin flight, and uses a whole lot of pictures to talk about the plight of a loyal passenger. The play was trivial, the acting was top-notch. The adaptation to Indian context was equally hilarious. A little over the top, but Rajit pulled it off with his performance.

Rank  – 6th

Act 9 – Creado, Constance

Written by Joanna Murray-Smith, adapted and directed by Arghya Lahiri, and performed by Shernaz Patel.

I found it to be a very interesting and moving play, about the life of a widow coming to terms with life by being involved in too many things to kill her loneliness, and then finding liberation in a different relationship. Shernaz was brilliant, a lot more brilliant than the WoW act earlier.

Rank – 4th

Act 10 – Instant Behosh

Written and directed by Rahul Da Cunha, and performed by Amit Mistry.

I completely recommend Amit Mistry to anyone (from the time I saw his acting in Shubh Mangal Savadhaan), and feel that he is a talent who’s not been used much by the industry. This guy has elevated almost any play that I have seen him be a part of, including some really ridiculous ones.

This play is about a terrorist who does not want to be a terrorist, and is a funny take on terror, terrorism and Pakistan. There is a bit on the Indian media as well, where thinks that Kasab after the trial and everything, will soon be invited to Big Boss and will be the next winner too.

Ranked – 3rd. This one worked very well for me, though  it depended a whole lot on Mistry’s performance. Otherwise, it could have been a Rank2 for me as well.

In short, I think One on One is definitely a good investment for your evening. Many small acts that you will relate to (not necessarily the ones that I liked), and if you go on a weekday, the tickets are for 80 bucks only.  I guess the play is on till the weekend as well. So, go ahead, enjoy…. It’s a fun ride.

Afterthought – Is this only me who cannot relate with my fellow audience when they start laughing everytime an actor utters an expletive on stage, and more so if it’s in hindi. All the “teri maa..”, “behan..”, “C…” etc. are apparently very hilarious. How so? What joke did I miss?

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About Amit
Conventional, boring, believer, poet, Shayar (to be precise), lover of music, musical instruments, and all that can be called music (theoretically or metaphorically), jack of all master of none, more of a reader less of a writer, arbit philosopher, foolish debater.. and many more such things.. like so many people!

6 Responses to Theater Review: One On One (A Rage Production)

  1. Amit says:

    Kaustubh – Glad you enjoyed the play. TEIO – my preference was clearly for Load-shedding 🙂

    So, Rajit did Act2. That must have been interesting. And different.

    But overall, I came out quite happy with the play.

  2. I just saw this today at Bharatiya Vidya Bhawan, Chowpatty. The order seems to have changed quite a bit though.

    Act 1 was the same although Act 2 (presume it’s the same story as the CM and his bodyguard?!) was performed by Rajit Kapur who I thought did a great job with the rural Punjabi twang and the overall effect. Nothing loud about that.

    On Act 3, it was stomach-churning indeed and one feels they could have done a better job about it. For instance, Neil’s character talking about touching the victim’s “sweaty face”. Did they imply any closeted sentiments that translated into this violence? Either ways, not too much of character delineation. And some gaps in logic- why would a rich urbane well-heeled character need to take that ring off the victim and gift the same one to his wife on their anniversary?

    But I would rate the “Aabodana” or the small town couple on par with the Load-shedding act as highlights of the experience and Shernaz Patel’s widow act just a step lower.

    Cheers…
    Kaustubh Pethe

  3. Amit says:

    Hey Maithili.. good to know u liked it. I think Anand Tiwari is someone to watch out for! 🙂

  4. Hey,
    went for this performance last night at the Prithvi Theater. I would agree with almost all that you’ve put up here… I think Anand Tiwari and Amit Mistry were the best at their acts! Load-Shedding and Aabodana were my personal favorites… so was Instant Behosh… Damn good!! I’m much happier spending my money on tickets for this one rather than one of the movies….

    Good review… subscribing.. 🙂

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