The first performer of the evening, Tahira Nath, plays a woman, who, like Dionysus, loves wine and drama. Teetering on the edge of alcoholism, she insists on standing in the spotlight and holding forth on the importance of theatre. “The Greeks would go to the open air hoping the drama they see would evoke terror and pity. Now, we have so much terror in our own lives that we go to the theatre looking for a sense of relief,” she says. It was the first hint of the kind of play Bayan was.
Made up of several small plays, Bayan touched upon normal features of a woman’s life that didn’t seem quirky until placed on stage. Directed by Akarsh Khurana of Mumbai-based Akvarious Productions, Bayan was staged in Delhi, at the Oddbird Theatre in Chhatarpur, on Sunday.
Anything for You, which begins the medley, is about two friends in a cafe. The plot line zigzags more than a DNA double helix, beginning with one woman telling her friend she wants to have an affair or she would go mad. It is who she wants to have the affair with that comes as a shocker. I Can Tell Your Handbag Is Fake is about consumerism and compromises but also about three women chatting in a metro about fashion, identity and self-worth.
In every segment, the action unfolds in a compact space — usually a couple of chairs — and involves two or three characters. The simplicity of design is complemented by a linear storyline that is driven by dialogues, and physical movements are minimal. The effect is naturalistic and relatable, like familiar scenes from everyday life. The actors, Prerna Chawla, Dilshad Edibam, Shriya Pilgaonkar, Rohini Ramnathan and Shikha Talsania, besides Nath, maintained the steady energy of the performance all through.
The Tale of Two Typewriters is about an era in Mumbai when two friends, one good-looking and the other sweet, would enroll at a school called Good Luck Typewriting Class and receive notes from a secret admirer who wants to meet them at a juice place in the neighbourhood. In another segment, Juliet Montague nee Capulet catches up with Cinderella Charming at the shrink’s as both their marriages unravel. The final story of Bayan, Santa’s Little Call Girls, is about a group that works in a call centre and decides to take the drastic step of shattering some myths.
“The idea was to make a fun evening that touches upon issues without making it seem we were shovelling a message down someone’s throat. It should be an enjoyable evening and maybe leave you with something to think about,” says Khurana.