Parasito, Romeo, and Julieto in Mexi-co-o!

True to pantomimes, Little Theatre’s “Romeo and Juliet in Mexico” performance in the Museum Theater was fun, frolic and general mish-mash, while also having quite a good storyline as an accompaniment.

I’ve always liked the Museum Theatre – it’s one of those quaint old buildings of the British Raj, with its old brickwork, its steep steps and the round perfectness of it. I was there at 2.30 PM, well in advance of the 3 PM show – which, incidentally, was the first show open to the public. That was marked by gals in low slung jeans, applying lipstick five minutes before the play, hopeful mamas with kids hanging on their arms, and sombrero-wearing children who went around distributing paper eye-masks (in honour of Mexican banditos, you see.) There was a familiar, expectant hiss and murmur among the crowd and I was pleasantly caught up in it. 10 minutes before the performance they let us in, we took our seats, and after Aysha Rau read out a list of the sponsors and welcomed everyone, the play began.

It was fun from the word Go. There’s El Musquital, a stinking little hamlet plagued by mosquitoes – Sqd Breeder Tohz/Sir Gunya (Deviyani Poppy Murali), and Wing Cmd Musky/Sir Chik (they are the storytellers, the sutradhars.)They open the scene to a lovesick Romeo (who, in the fashion of pantomimes is played by a girl, Madhulika Gautama) and Juliet (Janani Ambikapathy), who dances and flirts her way with her “Knight in Shining Swatter” – as the place is infested with mosquitoes. The dialogues are a little tongue-in-cheek at times, the lines blurring between children and full-blown adult fare (“We’ll use protection, Romeo!” in response to his queries about how they could possibly sleep safely – Romeo’s referring to mosquitoes, and Juliet’s talking about mosquito-nets). She, of course, is Juliet-o, as the story happens in Mexico. Everything’s got an “O”, starting with the Evil Count Airhead Parasito (Anshumani Ruddra), who prances and makes a good job of a yucky teethy villain commanding his hordes of evil mosquito/rat minions.

And then there are Julieto’s nurses, Dame Allepeyno and Dame Gwakamole, two Malayalam-spouting males in drag who run around providing comic entertainment. Have to hand it to them, the names are darn funny. Romeo’s mother, Lady Montiago, and cousin Roselyn try desperately to marry Julieto off to the evil polluted Count, and the scheme almost works – for Julieto, drugged by a mosquito repellent, loses her memory and is transported to the Count’s la-la-land for a while – before regaining her senses.

There was Hanuman too – Hanumano, to suit the picture. He dances in and out, doling out advice, and generally clearing things up. And in true pantomime fashion, there were requests to the audience, sing-alongs, and a rather large Mexican wave which ended with all of us shrieking. Not to mention all the songs incorporated into the script. One particular laugh riot was when Count Parasito challenges Romeo, asking what did he have, as against the Count’s own wealth and riches, and Romeo turns up his (her) nose disdainfully and says, “Meri pas maa hai!” – and it sent everyone into fits.

The evil Count finally reforms (behind an Intensive Cleaning Unit), and unites the star-crossed lovers who almost die in the process. And we’re filled with visions of “O” afterwards. (Let’s Go-o?” “Enjoy-o?”}

All is well in the end – except that there’s a last, surprising little twist in the tale. The shows ends today, with the 7 PM show being the last.

2 Comments so far

  1. Aysha Rau (unregistered) on December 24th, 2006 @ 9:44 am

    Thanks! I’m glad you enjoyed the show…we are working on “Pirates of the Caribbean” for next year…. incidentally Sir Chik was played by Rohini Rau

  2. Pavithra (unregistered) on December 26th, 2006 @ 3:54 pm

    Looking forward to the next performance, Aysha. :)

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