‘…and sunshine follows the rain!’

The Madras Players staged the play ‘…and sunshine follows the rain’ last weekend at the Museum Theatre. The play was an adaptation of the famous play by Tennessee Williams, ‘The Glass Menagerie’ with an Anglo-Indian context, done with sensitivity by Chennai based Harry MacLure. Harry is a writer, illustrator, cartoonist and graphic designer, who edits an international magazine for Anglo-Indians called ‘Anglos in the wind’, and runs a design print studio in Chennai.

The play was directed by Rajiv Krishnan of Moonoverstillwater Productions. Rajiv is a theatre director, actor and independent documentary film maker, and brought a deft touch to the direction of this gripping play- a glimpse into the lives and struggles of an Anglo-Indian family in Perambur in the early 50’s. The play was unique in that each character is played by multiple actors, all on the stage at the same time! As Rajiv puts it, “It was a tremendous challenge, and we were excited by the energy that resulted from the actors connecting with each other, and telling the story in a truly collective manner”.

Amanda Wakefield, an Anglo-Indian lady whose husband left the family when the children were very young, dreams of a good life for her son Tom, and slightly crippled daughter, Laura. Tom, burdened by having to support the family by working in the railway workshops at Perambur, dreams of breaking away and escaping by joining the merchant navy. Laura, shy and withdrawn due her crippled state, more in her mind than real, lives in her imaginary world of glass figurines bought for her by her father before he left.

In the resulting tensions and inter-personal stress between the family members, Amanda desperately searches for a ‘gentleman’ to marry her and take her away to a rosy future in Australia. While the son tries to escape from the drudgery of his life pending his departure in ‘the pictures’ and in drink. Amanda fights to keep her family together, chastising her son, and trying to get her daughter to be ‘normal’. The cares, concerns, struggles and anguish that result could happen in any family, but are presented in the context of Anglo-Indians in the 50s who were increasingly insecure with the departure of the British.

The cast was well chosen and put in a gripping performance, emoting to a degree where you actually experienced their angst. Kaveri Lalchand and Rashmi Devadasan as Amanda were especially good, and made your heart go out to this single mother struggling to give her children a better life. Asim Sharma, Iswar Srikumar and Yog Japee made Tom Wakefield so real you felt you knew him by the end of the play. While Madhavi Sahu and Malavika PC played Laura with a sensitive touch and fragility. Malavika was especially good in her emoting, her fragility, and the wonderful rendition of the title song in her unusual and powerful voice. While Jim O’Connor, the man who, in one intense encounter, set Laura free from her self imposed prison, was played by Srikrishna Dayal and Anshumani Ruddra.

A live band in the wings brought the Anglo-Indians love for music and dance alive with appropriate music, and was an interesting touch. The cast looked, spoke and behaved Anglo-Indian, though none of them were from the community. In all, this as one of the better plays in content, production and acting that one has seen in a while. Especially because of the unusual manner in which each character was played by multiple actors simultaneously. And a crew that enabled a slick presentation with the minum of fuss. Kudos to the Madras Players for presenting such a powerful production in their fiftieth year! Clearly they haven’t lost any of their energy, creativity or willingness to experiment with form, content, directors, producers and script writers.

Take a bow.

1 Comment so far

  1. Lavanya (unregistered) on July 10th, 2006 @ 10:47 pm

    and fumes (of petty jealousy!) follow this post!

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