Genre : Play
Cast: Pratyush Singh, Virginia Rodrigues and Ashwini Chakre
Writer: Sandeep Shikhar
Director: Abhishek Majumdar
As the lights dimmed, the soft, warm glow of cell phones lit up faces. One, two, three….as the glow diminished because people were turning their phones off, the stage lit up ever so gently to cast its eyes on the characters on stage. “I don’t know,” begins the dialogue between a couple and trails off into the night.
Treadmill is a story about big city, big lights and the tussle of life amidst the chaos of everyday. The script is tight, short and evocatively staged. This story hits hard since it is everybody’s story. It is yours and mine. It traces the story of a couple as they journey through life trying to navigate the demands of a living city. Time that seemed aplenty in the beginning begins to dwindle, and before they know it, their lives are overwhelmed with insignificant details. Bills, chores, deadlines, home, mortgage and the burden of balancing a relationship.
The powerful suthradhar was like the sharp-edged stake. Shikhar is an actor with many faces. He adorns the role of not one, but many characters with ease. He moves in and out of roles with the ease of an actor who is a veteran. He really brings the whole production together. Virginia and Ashwini play their parts well, but there is a monotony in their performance that eventually sends them into the background. Shikar’s definitely had the audience spell-bound.
Keeping the production minimalistic in terms of sets and lighting helped turn the focus towards the play. The success of a play depends largely on how the audience reacts through half-held breaths, laughter, applause and a feeling of being moved. The play did all of this beautifully. The scattered, silhouettes of chalk bodies on the floor did cause a distraction. The constant running and searching for something becomes a metaphor for how we react to life. We are always running and looking for something. If we all just learn to walk and take stock, there is plenty that we will find.
Why does the city rob people off of their identities. Why do we run relentlessly? What bogs a relationship down? These and so many other questions slowly come to you as you laugh and sigh along with the cast. I don’t know if this play is available as text any where, but if it is, I suggest you read it. If you are in Bangalore, then better still, go see it.