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Play about social chaos charms theatre goers

September 14, 2012

ISLAMABAD, Sept 13: Dysfunctional adults, tension and inelegance — that was the sales pitch to lure audiences to the new stage drama that hit stage Wednesday night.Well, God of Carnage charmed everyone’s hearts during the premier night at the Islamabad Club auditorium but probably not with equal measures.

The Empty Theatre Space came out with their all new over an hour-long production; directed by Junaid Malik, who is recognised for introducing more varied theatrical works to the Islamabad stage.

Mixed views followed soon after the play ended at the Islamabad Club auditorium — some describing the evening as “sentimental and heartfelt” to a “high profile show”, others expected bright colours, attractive visuals and more laughs.

The action of the play, written by French playwright, novelist and screenwriter Yasmina Reza took place over the course of a single evening at the Novak residence with a decent bookshelf and cosy sofa sets in the Cobble Hill Park neighbourhood in Brooklyn, New York. The drama revolved around two couples, whose evening degenerated into chaos.

Caught in the middle of the ruckus were Michael Novak, Veronica Novak, Alan Raleigh and Annette Raleigh, who met to settle a fight between their children and behaving increasingly childishly themselves and gradually revealing their hidden and uncivil sides.

Among the few dramatic moments in the play were when Annette Raleigh performed by Malika Zafar, dropped her husbands cell phone into a vase filled with water.

Even more dramatic and probably the funniest moment in the play was her husband’s reaction — spontaneous, natural and unexpected.

But what put off some in the audience, even the most liberal minded were the liberal sprinkle of expletives.

“Did they think that swearwords would heighten the excitement of the drama,” objected an audience member and a view that some of this friends also shared.

Nonetheless, the novel sensibility of the drama was enhanced by an emotionally stirring cast — although some in the audience tended to disagree.

Ali Rehman, a famous stage actor who played the role of Alan Raleigh, alternated active participation with several brief phone calls and explicitly showed resentment to the whole idea of sorting out the problem at hand.

Malika Zafar as Annette Raleigh punctuated her role with calm and aggression. Micheal Novak performed by Uzair Khan made audiences wonder how his marriage with Veronica Novak had endured as long as it did.

And Maha Khan in the role of Veronica Novak is simply and convincingly irritating.

The play will run till September 16 at the Islamabad Club.