ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday, January 14, 2007
Vol. 41 - No 33

Balancing act between cynicism and humour

By Vidushi Seneviratne
Pix. by M.A Pushpa Kumara

Think governance, politics or even just power. Corruption must surely be one of the first words that come into your mind… This, together with the use of power to suit you best, is a common occurrence regardless of time and space.

Starting the year with some realistic comedy, your dramatic appetite promises to be satisfied when a talented host of thespians take the stage in an innovative production. Nikolai Gogal's "The Government Inspector" goes on board the Lionel Wendt stage from January 26 – 28, at 7.30pm. Presented by the Old Royalists Association of Dramatists (ORAD), together with The Royal College Union, the production will strive to strike a balance between humour and cynicism of the ways of the real world.

So what makes this production different to any other? "The relevance of the theme of the play, to the world context is probably the most important feature of the production," says Thushara Hettihamu, its producer.

"The entire notion of big fish eats small fish, emphasising on power, but then realising that there might be an even bigger force out there, and that that force might not necessarily be harmful, is the underlying theme in the play."

Though the setting of the original play is a small town in Russia, a specific location has yet to be decided for the production, emphasising the fact that the theme used is universal. "There is still a lot of experimenting going on and that's one of the best things about the production.

The play is set in a little town rampant with corruption, and it could very easily be our own country! This theme is so relevant to any country in the world, that the location is still in the process of being decided," said Suren Gnanaraj, President of ORAD and cast member. Being a topical comedy, the entire play revolves around a corrupt local municipality authority, with the head of the town being the Mayor. "He is surrounded by a number of cronies such as a German doctor who treats patients without understanding what they are saying and a post master who does not deliver the mail, but reads them instead," said Suren. This corrupt system continues until eventually there is news that a Government Inspector from the Central Government is apparently paying the town a visit, and then all hell breaks lose…


"The premise of the play is mistaken identity and this brings out the comic element of the play," said Thushara, adding that you are bound for some surprises, as a few big names in the drama world will be playing cameo roles, while younger potential will be used for the main roles.

The production has yet another unique feature to it, that being the fact that each character consists of two levels.

"Each character will have a dual aspect to it - sort of an element of split personality or schizophrenia. For instance, while a character could be completely sane and normal in one instance, a complete change could take place and the character could transform into something ultra emotional and melodramatic."

He went on to add that none of the cast members have been given specific instructions as to how the assigned character should be played. "Each person is just expected to read the script and interpret their own parts in the best way suited to themselves.

Apart from general direction, the individual cast members will be improvising on their own parts. Also, the two roles of the leading ladies in the play are being played by two female cast members invited to perform in the production."


According to Suren, though the ORAD has been involved in productions before, it has always been more of supporting role. "So the idea behind this production is for the Association to get more involved in theatre, and to ultimately raise funds for productions of current students.

Especially when it comes to putting together a production for competitions, funding is quite a problem for these students, so this is an ideal way for us to give back something to school theatre." Being active dramatists while in school, most of the members of ORAD are now successfully pursuing diverse careers, with drama taking a back seat.

"This is an ideal opportunity for all of us to rekindle ties and relive school memories, while doing something we all enjoy doing." So to catch these versatile actors in full force, head over to the Wendt and unleash the sceptic comedian in you.

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Copyright 2007 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka.