KARACHI: At a time when the cinema industry is on the decline, the National Academy of Performing Arts (Napa) comes up with a theatre play that is intimate, intense and invigorating at the same time. Beegul’s Bedroom Conversations may feature just two actors on stage, but thanks to Khalid Ahmed’s brilliant direction and Kaif Ghaznavi and Ali Junejo’s mesmerising performance, these two proved to be too hot to handle for the audience.
Staged at Napa’s Basement Theatre and lasting less than an hour, Bedroom Conversations leaves a lasting impact on the minds of the audience. Both the actors enact as many as nine characters (18 characters in total) in less than 55 minutes, establishing each character in the beginning, and then concluding each relationship in such a way that the audience is left stunned, shocked and surprised, all at the same time.
The play revolves around nine couples and their bedroom conversations, hence the name of the play. Beegul pens down intense lines for the two actors to perform as they play rich, poor, middle-class, young, old, torn apart, betrayed and loving couples in their time together on the stage. Kudos to veteran director Khalid Ahmed’s instructions that made the actors captivate the audience and didn’t let them notice that they were wearing the same clothes, moving around the same set and just changing their expressions, while switching from one character to another.
From comparing humans to animals, rich to poor, young to old, normal to suffering from mental illness, and literate to illiterate, the two actors did a fantastic job, without leaving the stage, and kept the audience engrossed to their story, wherever it led.
What else would the audience do if the actors spoke in perfect Urdu, then switched to Punjabi, then Parsi dialect, then English, then village lingo and finally to a mixture of Urdu and English, without making the audience realise the enormous effort behind it. They kept the conversation limited to bedroom talk; while one of the couples had issues with intimacy, the other met after a long time; while one husband left money under the pillow for his wife, the other struggled to make both ends meet. The combination of Beegul’s writing and Khalid Ahmed’s direction was so deadly that not once did the audience feel bored, or looked at their watches to check the time.
Not many plays in the last couple of years have dealt with the conflict between a husband and a wife; this one deals with that of nine in record time. Each character emerges from the other one and is so well-knitted that not only do you find a connection, but also could relate to their pain. The play was supposed to conclude its run on Tuesday, but has been extended for a day on audience demand. It will now complete its run at Napa on Wednesday (today).
Published in Dawn, December 11th, 2019