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Staging the fluff of dreams

ROMESH CHANDER

A new youthful group presented a thought-provoking play "Cotton Candy" in the Capital the other day.



ALL IN A MOMENT A scene from "Cotton Candy"

In the last two years or so a most welcome change is taking place in Delhi theatre; I am referring to the emergence of youth theatre as different from the already existing University theatre. The latest to join the new fraternity is a group that calls itself Tubelight and its premier presentation titled "Cotton Candy" written by Kunal Nayyar and Oroon Das was on the boards of the India International Centre. But first, a brief introduction to those who thought of Tubelight.

Kunal is currently in America where he's doing his Masters in acting from Temple University, Philadelphia. Kunal was recently awarded the Irene Ryan national Acting Award and Mark Twain National Award for Comedic Acting, after which he was one of the few to be invited to work with playwrights, dramaturges from all over the world at the Sundance Theatre lab at Utah. He also teaches acting and on his return to India hopes to open acting schools all over India.

Oroon is a Delhi actor, who has worked with some leading theatre groups while he "ceaselessly negotiates his working life as a designer with the world of make-belief on stage."

Sukhesh chucked college to train as an actor-teacher to work with children and young people. In 2000 on a Charles Wallace fellowship, he studied Physical Theatre at Royal Holloway College, London. More recently, he has been studying Kalarippayattu at the CVN Kalari Centre, Thiruvananthapuram.

Two characters

"Cotton Candy" is a sensitive short play beautifully worked out by just two characters who speak in the English of today's youth delivered in short-hand and the mores of the pre-computer days. The play opens on a dimly lit room full of scattered magazines, old newspapers and empty wine bottles, etc. Oroon is watching TV. He suddenly throws away the remote, gets up humming a tune and tries to tidy up the room. Enters Sukhesh who shares the apartment with Oroon. Their banter gives us some idea of their way of thinking and their relationship. Among other things they talk of love. Sukhesh feels that love can only happen between two unequal. "It can't otherwise. Love only happens when there is one person who wants to be kicked so much that the other person has no choice but to oblige with complete detachment. It's governed by the laws of physics."

"But what about the laws of chemistry?" asks Oroon.

"In love chemistry is a minor distraction, a little side entertainment. What matters is the physics, the forces of attraction that govern them. Two people can only be bound by varying degrees of desperation. It's power play. There is always one who is stronger and the other is weak. The two needs must balance each other or else they will fly apart."

As we go along the play takes a turn. One afternoon Sukhesh's mother drops in to leave some stuff and what happened between Oroon and her is beautifully woven in the sequence.

The scene is one of the highlights of the presentation. Listen to the last few dialogues: "I didn't plan this, it happened. And now that it's happened I don't want to feel guilty. I feel terrible that I have hurt you." Sukhesh tries to interrupt and Oroon asks him to shut up and listen.

"Ever seen cotton candy? The wheel turns and then suddenly from nowhere strand after strand merges to become this delicate white... you bring it to your lips and it melts away into nothingness, leaving you with its sweetness. That's what love is like. It comes from nowhere, unannounced... you can't make it happen. And it doesn't remain... It's all in a moment and I couldn't bear to let that moment pass," says Oroon.

"Cotton Candy" is certainly one of the best plays to be presented by the younger generation, but the excessive use of the four-letter word soon begins to jar and turns into a gimmick. Maybe the director/playwright will have a second look at the script before it is on the boards again. It is well worth watching.

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