The Fine Art of Dying

Theatre director Rajesh Bali revisits a popular thriller, Arsenic and Old Lace.

Written by Dipanita Nath | Published: July 18, 2017 12:23:24 am
Theatre Director Rajesh Bali, Drashta Entertainers Theatre Group, National School of Drama (NSD), Satyajit Ray, Arsenic and Old Lace, India Habitat Centre A scene from Arsenic and Old Lace

For more than 25 years, Drashta Entertainers has kept its eyes glued on audiences. The group, directed by Rajesh Bali, an alumni of the National School of Drama (NSD) in Delhi, has presented plays, such as Ekant, based on the short stories of Satyajit Ray, and The Beautiful Tree, about ancient India, which was commissioned by the Ministry of Culture. This weekend, they revisit a popular black comedy, titled Arsenic and Old Lace. The play was written by Joseph Kesselring and was a hit in America before it was adapted into a film, starring Cary Grant.

Excerpts from an interview with Bali about the play: Black and Funny

When I first got the script, as a student at NSD, I didn’t stop reading even to drink tea. I wondered if I could turn the script into a play that would hold the audience just as tightly. Family Drama

The play revolves around an abnormal family, in which the eldest brother and sister have taken it upon themselves to bump off old, unemployed and, otherwise, sad people. It is their version of mercy killing. Strangely, you feel bad for the siblings although they are murderers.

Playing Dead The actors do not make any effort to make audiences laugh, we let the situations do this. The play is a black comedy that starts on a slow note and the graph keeps rising as the various emotions, from horror and fear to love and surprise, play out.

Living Space We turn the stage into a living-cum-dining room for the action to unfold. An important part of the room is a sette, where a body is found. The play will be staged at India Habitat Centre on July 22. Time: 7.30 pm. Entry: Rs 200 to 500

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