Classic theatre comes to town

ISLAMABAD, Aug 30: If most of the audience did not have a good time watching Rustam-o-Sohrab that carried theatre goers back into ancient times Thursday night, they were on the wrong medication.

The roughly two-hours long drama bowled the audience over, when it hit the stage at the National Art Gallery (NAG).

The show won standing ovations the old-fashioned way, with a charming love story, compelling cast and inventive stagecraft.

“It did not give us a chance to not like it because it is amazing how the characters had memorised such a difficult script and delivered it with such ease,” said Ahmar Amir in the audience who liked the solid story telling.

And another audience member, fond of poetry and literature appreciated the performance to the extent that she wanted the drama to ‘run forever’.

Written by Agha Hashar Kashmiri and directed by Malik Aslam, Rustam-o-Sohrab was executed deftly and with affection.

This was Agha Hashar’s last play, Rustam-o-Sohrab, the tragic story of two legendary Persian heroes, Rustam and his son Sohrab, a drama of passion and fatal irony. According to the performers, the story was relevant to present times highlighting the lust for power and suppression of the weak.

The show was delightfully original and at times hilarious, intense on poetic dialogues accompanied with live back ground music.

And all that was tucked inside a professional and old-fashioned way.

The simple but clever staging heightened every act. In the cast were no fresh faces but stage actors who have been performing for 18 to 20 years.

The familiar faces once made up of famous Ajoka Theatre group. Breaking away, the crew had formed their own drama group, now known as Azad Theatre.

After a successful performance in Lahore at the Lahore Arts Council in June 2012, the Azad Theatre had brought their first production Rustam-o-Sohrab to Islamabad for the delight of theatres lovers here.

Going had been tough for the new group who had difficulties in gathering resources to make the drama a success.

“The script is pure and very difficult to memorise. The cast rehearsed for a month and had complete command at delivering dialogues,” said Sarfaraz Ansari who theatre goers recognise as Bulha from one of Ajoka’s best stage plays.

The audience liked the crew so much they could have kept them in the capital.

The defining quality of this entertaining show where its cast — Sarfraz Ansari, Usman Zia who hit heroic mark with crisp efficiency as he played Rustam, and the animal energy in Zohaib Haider as Sohrab, Imranul Haq, Nadeem Abbas, Luca Calvin, Waseem Ali, Ahsan Butt, Alia Abbas and Khola Qureshi who played the roles of the two princesses, Yaqoob Masih, Dr Zoya Qazi and others. The two day drama will run till Friday night.

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