Play: Lagi Lagan
Director: Waman Kendre
Group: National School of Drama (NSD) Repertory Company, New Delhi
Shaw’s Pygmalion has a legendary presence in the world of theatre and playwriting. From its first production in Vienna in 1913 to its current presence in various cross-cultural adaptations, Pygmalion has a universal theme of sincere wildness against refined vulgarity. Since it is a play that has had a constant presence throughout the years, the awareness of key elements from script to presentation becomes decisive to analyze and acknowledge as to what makes current productions around Pygmalion, worthy adaptations.
It was like a dead space trying to live up to the mandatory expectations of its own. Shaw’s Pygmalion seemed to be stuffed into an Indian mouth that could have done better if only the translation were given justice. The bad translation manifested in unnatural tonal and gestural leaps in the sequence of acts. The restless energy throughout the play was a self-evident motif directing our attention to the Actor’s lack of faith in the translation at hand. The mechanical choreography of the musical interludes appeared as deliberate reminders of the presence of theatre inputs. On the level of transcription, the key areas and reflections in Pygmalion are either flimsily inculcated or completely overlooked. Besides scenic design and visual environment, that goes well, Lagi Lagan is bereft of any fresh perspective that might answer self-evidently, “Why Pygmalion?”
Considering the last scene and especially taking into account how the characters are played, Manjula’s (Elza) walk off on Vikram (Henry) carries an imbalance of intention where her crumbling takes over the integrity of her decision. She seems as lost as Vikram and therefore blurs the Shavian intention i.e. ‘Elza should feel emancipated and must not relapse. She must retain her pride and triumph to the end.’ Furthermore, Vikram is played in such monotony that it becomes challenging to believe his cries. We are simply not convinced what prevails – Manjula or Vikram’s delusion (could that be the director’s approach?). As for the theme of the sincere wildness of passions and the innate ethics (irrespective of the social, cultural attire) against the refined vulgarities and the artificial rendering, does Manjula prevail in Lagi Lagan? Well, that remains dubious!
Watching Lagi Lagan besides itself, brings in a considerable curiosity to its credibility and claims, since it is a repertory production which is in-fact a demonstration troupe of NSD. Well, for an eye whose interest is limited within the timeframe of the play, Lagi Lagan contains perks of revelations on notions that we have deemed acceptable by bargaining foundations of the simplest ethics and humility. Manjula and Vikram are believable portrayals, be it the humor or the assault. And for the eyes that are aware of the history of Repertory and its benchmarks, they will surely find the Ensemble at its worse. One might wonder about repertory productions back in the 70s and 80s when it was considered to be at its full stature and might find that Nemichandra’s inhibitions still persist.