If you missed the English version of a French play ‘Le Dieu du Carnage,’ look out for the next production by director, Junaid Malik. The play is a comedy of manners about two New York couples behaving badly when defending their children. As the evening goes on, political correctness disappears, tantrums and name calling appears and the evening results into, as the title of the play suggests, chaos. The audience may not have laughed out loud but definitely indulged in giggles or smiled at the antics on stage, leaving them, I’m sure, with a ‘feel good’ mood for the rest of the evening!
The play has been written by French playwright, Yasmina Reza. It is entertaining and showcases the talent of four Pakistani artistes who do a fine job of the roles they are assigned, making it an enjoyable experience. The cast of characters includes Uzair Khan (Michael Novak) Maha Khan (Veronica Novak) Ali Rehman Khan (Alan Raleigh) and Malika Zafar (Annette Raleigh) and the action takes place over the course of a single evening at the Novak residence, the duration being about seventy-five minutes.
The beginning was just a little slow but soon gathered momentum as the all too familiar, ‘just like real life’ scenario unfolded. Older persons in the audience must have related to the plot, which deals with their children having an altercation that eventually involves their parents, something that happens frequently, especially in our part of the world. The younger lot may have learnt a lesson — do not get involved in the petty fights your children have with their friends since they usually forgive and forget, while their parents sometimes become enemies for life! The dialogues were well delivered and clear except in a few instances at the beginning but as the actors slipped into their roles it was spot on, clear and well delivered — no fluffing of lines and awkward pauses.
The crew — Assad Khan (sound design) Jehanzeb Aftab (lights), Faizaan Ahab (artwork) Saad Ali (poster/brochure) Cynia and Kinza Ejaz (hall management) and Talha Zahid (backstage) contributed their bit to the slick production. There were a few ‘do’s’ and ‘don’ts’ specified at the back of the ticket for ‘an uninterrupted performance’ and ‘theatre etiquette,’ so just as well we had a look before stepping into the auditorium — it was hard not to resist singing or humming along as the play opened with Doris Day singing that catchy number, ‘How much is that doggy in the window?’
Yasmina Reza is also an actress, novelist and screenwriter. ‘Le Dieu du Carnage’ was a worldwide hit — one of the most popular and acclaimed plays of the last ten years, which has seen several theatrical productions and has now been made into a film directed by Roman Polanski.
Junaid Malik who has received his BA in Drama from the University of Washington, Seattle, pioneered the trend of introducing more varied theatrical work to the Islamabad stage, particularly those that are highly acclaimed but may be considered alternative and less mainstream. Under the banner of Empty Space Theatre, he has brought many interesting productions to the fore. Here’s hoping we will soon see more work by this talented young director and his team.