It’s a s p o o k y midnight
It's striking how The Madras Players do justice to a good script, how they perform with equal ease and brilliance, plays like the emotionally stirring The song of the Loom and the humourous, witty thriller, Midnight Hotel, both of which thrive on completely opposite intensities and moods. This is perhaps what make the oldest theatre group in the city what they are today. True performers.
The latter was an experience of sorts. Directed by Mithran Devanesen and written by Shreekumar Varma, Midnight Hotel, besides having an impressive cast of Michael Muthu, PC Ramakrishna, Indrani, Shankar Sundaram and Anuradha Ananth, also came with all the other perquisites that were needed to complete it to perfection; including sets by Mithran Devanesen. The play revolves around one lone hotel room, set in Pondicherry.
The Midnight Hotel is known for losing all its customers due to spooky incidents that turn them paranoid. The only inhabitants include the owner, Usha (Anuradha), a widow, and the brain behind converting the house into a hotel after husband Deep kicked the bucket, an idealistic, unsuccessful writer and drunkard (PC Ram), who couldn’t remember the last time he wrote a book or paid the rent, Hari (Michael Muthu), ‘late’ Deep’s brother and Usha’s brother-in-law and lover, who drops in just at the beginning of the play, Ronnie (Shankar Sundaram), the faithful, Frenchman and manager of the Midnight Hotel, Vidya (Indrani Krishnaier), who makes money by connecting with the world through the internet, and the man (read ghost) of the show, Deep (Mohd.Yusuf).
The play begins with Hari walking into the dimly lit hotel and discovering with shock its conversion into a hotel. Usha, who hears his voice comes down and ends up having an argument with him about how and why he left her. Hari promises her his unconditional love and Usha on her side keeps reminding him that it’s too late and that now she is his ‘anni’ (sister-in-law) and cannot give him what he desires, despite Deep being dead. The arguments are however interrupted when the lights in the room begin flickering and Usha rushes a confused, troubled Hari to his room immediately.
While the others believe that the hotel is haunted by Deep’s ghost, Usha tries to keep Hari oblivious to it. However he soon finds out and rest of the play is all about how the inhabitants confront Deep’s ghostly tantrums. Unexpected revelations through the play added twist to the plot and made it more interesting.
PC Ram delivered with efficacy, dialogues comprising the prolific, romanticised rhetoric of the author. Shankar Sundaram with his broken English portrayed the Frenchman befittingly. Michael Muthu, as the wacky, lovesick young man, was original and convincing. The women, Anuradha and Indrani also displayed brilliance, particularly when Deep’s ghost possessed them.
The sets and the lighting certainly added a uniqueness to the ambience, especially during the eerie special effects, when Deep’s favourite military music played, the fan rotated vigourously during a power cut and Deep, who regularly came alive from his framed picture on the wall, as narrator. The Midnight Hotel had us thinking as we made our way home.
Saranya Chakrapani 10 Mar 2009
THE NEW INDIAN EXPRESS