Theatron’s latest offerings, ‘It’s a Dhanashekar Thing’ and ‘½’ sent a clear message right from the start, that they were going to be outright entertainers. What set them apart from one another, was their tone.
‘It’s a Dhanashekar Thing’ tells the story of the Dhanashekar family, focused on the trio of siblings - Shaji (Ajay), Kavya (Chaitrika), and Akash (Ram). Each one of them is wildly different from the other - Shaji is a shy, but happy-go-lucky theatre actor who still dreams of his ex-girlfriend, while Kavya is a woman looking for the big break in her investigative career. Akash, on the other hand is a rather shadowy figure who is always well-dressed. Their seemingly disparate lives come together through a series of surprisingly convoluted events.
It is evident that Director Harishwaran had set out to replicate the mass entertainers that we all indulge in; the play starts out light-hearted, with touches of a blossoming love story, but soon picks up elements of an espionage/crime thriller. It is an ambitious undertaking that unfortunately does not always reach its potential with a scattershot script.
The dynamics between Shaji (Ajay) and Shanaya (Aishwarya) is one of the highlights of the play, with the bumbling guy-confident girl -relationship portrayed in a hilarious manner, with vivid performances by both actors. Arjun as the Dhanashekar patriarch leaves his impression in the handful of scenes he is in, as do Shaun and Mukesh in guest roles. The telephone conversations between Shaji, his ex-girlfriend and Akash, which played between scenes were an interesting touch that connected the story.
‘It’s a Dhanashekar Thing’ moves relentlessly forward, telling a suspenseful story as it plows towards its high-stakes climax. With a tighter cast and direction, it would have truly left a lasting impact on the audience. However, it does prove to be an interesting take on bringing the ‘masala movie’ to the stage.
‘½,’ meanwhile, replicates single-camera sitcoms, revolving around aspiring Assistant Director Aadi (Aadithya Raajan) - and his live-in girlfriend Arpana’s (Maduvanti) hilarious attempts to make a bit of extra money by renting out a singular room in their house. Thanks to a bit of greed and unexpected circumstances, two tenants end up sharing the room - the naive and skittish Ganesh by day (Sreevathsav) and the overconfident, lecherous Prakash by night (Gowtham). Aadi’s attempts to keep the two unaware roommates away from each other forms the crux of the story.
Where ‘½’ succeeds is a taut focus on the setting and characters - pretty much the entire play takes place in the living room of the house (appropriately numbered 420) with 3-4 characters. Director Mukesh Ranganathan ensures that each scene doesn’t overstay its welcome, and segues well into the other. Though there’s not much in the way of story here, so it is a boon that the performances by the actors are flawless.
Aadithya is a natural onstage, switching between internal monologues and dialogues with the rest of the cast effortlessly - whether it be appeasing his girlfriend or convincing Ganesh that there is a ghost in the house. Sreevathsav is an equal revelation, playing his easily-frightened character to a T, with some terribly funny and appropriate body language to match his jittery dialogue delivery. There are also an amazing few seconds of character-switching when Ganesh gains newfound confidence, before retreating back into his naiveté. The actors spout pop culture references every once in a while to hilarious effect, as well as some self-referential meta-humour.
‘½’ is an exercise in minimalism, revolving around a limited cast that own their performances. It knows to never take itself seriously, and hence delivers a consummate entertainer.
The Guindy Times applauds the sincere efforts of everyone involved in the plays, and wishes Theatron the best of luck for their future shows.