For an audience, the act of walking out in the middle of a play amounts to serious criticism. Both to the one who's leaving the room as well as the one who is witnessing the other leave the room. It's one of the factors that sets a play apart from a movie. In other words, it doesn't matter to anyone in a cinema hall—especially the actors on the big screen—if you feel like vacating your seat for nobody else. After all, you've bought the ticket so the damage is already done. But then, things work differently when it comes to theatre.
|A still from the rehearsals|
I recently watched this play titled Mister Happy Maker and I must add that I totally loved the concept. Set in a home-cum-shop, the story focuses on the very idea behind happiness. What exactly is it? Who pays and to whom? How long will it last? Unanswered questions like these ring in the back of your head while almost a dozen characters perform in front of your eyes. Although ad/media seems to be at the receiving end, the message is conveyed in such a subtle way that it doesn't matter who the bad guy is.
Speaking of actors, all of them did a likable job, especially Aseem Hattangady. He was incredibly convincing as an advertising executive. But for some reason Kaushal Anand, who played his son, seemed off the chart. Since he's essaying this pivotal yet highly disillusioned role who has everything against the world, I thought it was incumbent on him to go find a way out. Or at least get employed! But he doesn't intend to do any of that. Perhaps that's why the hollowness in his monologues were so dismally apparent. The only instance when a spark got noted in him was when he received a kiss from Divya Unny's sultry character! Perhaps it's not his fault. Blame the playwright.
The entire play could have done with a few more instances of genuine laughter. Absurdity is excusable but dullness isn't. There were moments of yawn because the novelty factor was lacking at moments.... crucial moments. Like an old sweeper is introduced in the later scenes but her dialogues betray her. Maybe it was the voice of hackneyed wisdom. Or maybe she was blatantly preachy. All in all, she failed to deliver the punch her character could have easily done because she represented the world outside the shop.
However, thanks to beautiful lighting and props (the AV should have had better sound system), the play didn't come across as a wannabe. And quite memorably, the climactic chaos was the high point as it had the right mix of both tragedy as well as comedy. At that point, you thank yourself for staying back. But then, you can't stop those who want to leave in the middle of the act.