The Ungrateful Man, at Ranga Shankara

From August 21 to 26, Bangalore Little Theatre is staging the Panchatantra tale, “The Ungrateful Man”..actually, the version of the tale that David Horsburgh wrote. David Hosburgh came to Karnataka 60 years ago, fell in love with the land, and stayed on. This play, written by him, premiered in Bangalore forty years ago.

The BLT team put up an excellent performance. The tale of the Brahmin who saves a tiger, a monkey, a snake, and a goldsmith from drowning in a well, and finds that the animals are grateful but that the goldsmith tries to cheat and harm him instead, was told with zest on the part of the entire cast and crew.

It is no easy task to manage small children on stage; but this was done, too, with great expertise. It was a real delight to watch the children…as monkeys, and as the two Sutradhars. The addition of a drummer to drum away in the intervals while set props were being added or taken away, was a very ingenious move.

The production values were very good; the sets, the costumes and the props were very good indeed.

t was obvious that even more than the adults, the children in the audience thoroughly enjoyed the play; and the audience was included in the play by having the Sutradhar talking to them, asking them yes-or-no questions like, “Do you talk to yourself?” or “Should the Brahmin save the goldsmith?” The children participated enthusiastically, and one little girl’s exclamations added to the mirth of the whole audience,as she warned the Brahmin not to go near the goldsmith

The sets and costumes added to the mood, too. I particularly liked the floating dresses of the river spirits, but all the others…from soldiers to the sumptious garb of the Queen and the Princess…were very well done. The sets were designed so that with simple additions and subtractions, different places were depicted.

The lighting crew also did their job well, highlighting different performers at different times.

The few glitches that did happen, could be ascribed to the children’s occasional lapses, and actually added to the charm of the play!

The brochure of the play was also well designed and produced, and gave details about BLT, the cast, the director (Vijay Padaki), and about Dream a Dream, an NGO which works with making children’s lives better. I had only one problem…the entire cast was listed with alternatives (eg. Sutradhar was listed as Shashank Nagaraja OR Shubhankar Kalele)…so I didn’t know which indiividual I was watching and appreciating! An introduction at the end of the performance would have solved this. I found, for example , the people who acted as the tiger and the goldsmith most enjoyable as they hammed it up for all they were worth, and the children in the audience lapped up the heartiness of the tiger or the villainy of the goldsmith! It was children’s theatre at its best…but I could not get the names, more so as we were instructed NOT to approach anyone backstage.

Though the play was listed as 100 minutes, with the 15 minute intermission, it took close to two hours. But it was a delightful 2 hours that I spent in Ranga Shankara…I strongly recommend that parents take their children…and people without children should go too, for some uncomplicated fun!

3 Comments so far

  1. Anush Shetty (unregistered) on August 23rd, 2007 @ 7:39 pm

    Very Nice Review :-)

  2. Murali (unregistered) on August 25th, 2007 @ 10:57 pm

    It is too costly 100/- ,,,, if i have to take 6 (Not mine) kids (my sisters + my cousins )just imagine.So i “boycotted” the show.

  3. SIG (unregistered) on August 27th, 2007 @ 8:16 am

    What is “too costly” ? They have their production charges I suppose. And Art has the value that others will pay for it.

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