Of Follies, Frailty and Wisdom : Review of 'The Good Doctor'

Chekov, Ouroboros theatre company, Ahmedabad
Chekov

Anton Chekhov is credited with an eye for observation – not just of what is seen but particularly of the psychology underlying it. On this count, all the neatly presented five playlets dramatizing his short stories in Ouroborostheatre ensemble The Good Doctor in Hindi get engaging. Before the writer, who is meant to be Chekhov (Shivam Parekh, who has with Chirag Modi adapted Neil Simon’s scripts in English and directed the play) emerges on the stage, a rowdy crowd significantly of a cross-section of ordinary people climbs onto it from the aisles communicating with the audience on either side. It is from the observed world that Chekhov found his characters with all their recognizable follies, frailty and flashes of wisdom.

The Seduction, Ouroboros theatre company, Ahmedabad
The Seduction

This is most evident in The Seduction, in which the central character, a sensuous brag (Vishal), with subtle psychological manipulation gets away with seducing married women he takes fancy to one after another – till he tries his clever tricks with confidence on the beautiful wife (Rupanshi) of an unsuspecting  gullible husband (Adesh). In the unexpected Chekhovian end, the woman, who looks quietly vulnerable till the end, but shrewd for her age, has the telling last laugh through a poser that gets the audience as well thinking. The amused viewer keeps thinking what is going on in the mind of either of them.

The Sneeze, Ouroboros theatre company, Ahmedabad
The Sneeze

Yes, apparently Chekhov’s plot – the framework of happenings – looks simplistic. As it does also in The Sneeze.  Something of a simpleton, the clerk (Hemang) in it, with his wife (Lakshmi), tests the limits of being obsequious and servile to his boss (Nisarg) even outside office. The writer uses an innocuous sneeze to give viewers a peek into a sycophant’s mind. The ludicrous even within the framework of a farce gets hilariously amplified here and knowing that it is an attitude that is the butt of ridicule, the largely young audience in the full house uproariously eggs the actors on despite the action later dragging a bit. The directors’ presence is felt in the nonverbal expression of snobbishness by the boss’s wife (Hetal).

The Birthday Gift, Ouroboros theatre company, Ahmedabad
The Birthday Gift

Chekhov feels the human pulse also in The Birthday Gift. The father (Shivam), anxious about his son’s (Hemang) manhood, pushes him to a brothel on his nineteenth birthday. The son’s nervous reluctance to explore the unknown is happily rewarded at the end when the father realizes he should hasten slowly and opts to spend money on what the son really needs at his age. A church official (Adesh) is at the mercy of a quack dentist (Dushyant) in The Surgery. The irony doesn’t go unfelt in The Drowning Man, in which a desperate young man (Dushyant) seeks to provide entertainment for money through the act of drowning and the other (Vishal) seeks entertainment t through it. Being depressing, dark comedy is not always to everyone’s liking. Projecting comic action in both, however, could be a good exercise at theatre workshops and schools.

The Drowning Man, Ouroboros theatre company, Ahmedabad
The Drowning Man

Nearly all roles are cameo-like. The directors have shaped them pretty well. In a couple of cases, the full potential remains untapped though. The episodes assume an exhilarating third dimension when the inbuilt social (Sneeze), besides psychological (The Seduction), comments Chekhov has inserted get noticed. There is a balance between death (The Sneeze, The Drowning Man) – the Russian writer, who died at forty-four, was haunted by it – and positivity (The Seduction, The Birthday Gift),  the signature quality of a great creative writer. Producer Shivam is at ease anchoring the episodes with the young players playing multiple roles. Those in charge of lights, costumes, makeup and music have made no mean contribution. Chirag and Shivam bring in a new experience, welcome to theatre enthusiasts.

 

Photographs courtesy: Show Producer

Yatra Archives

https://creativeyatra.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/A-Walk-with-Thambi-illustrated-by-Proiti-Roy-written-by-Lavanya-Karthik-Tulika-Books.jpg How Tulika Books is creating impact in children’s lives through picture books

A children’s book about a boy who feels like a girl. And about a child brought up by grandfathers. These are some of the stories published by Tulika Books, who have been making children’s picture books since 23 years. Little…

https://creativeyatra.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/romeo-juliet-1.jpg Of youthful passion and star-crossed lovers on Shakespeare’s birthday

While the Globe is streaming free its second dramatic production Romeo and Juliet, today is 23rd April, the day William Shakespeare (1564-1616) is believed to have been born and died. One would seldom find a more spontaneous and intense expression…

https://creativeyatra.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/article-on-renaissance-artists.jpg Leonardo, Michelangelo, Raphael and Donatello—Artists or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles characters?

Did you ever wonder where the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ characters got their names from? Well, your search is complete. Here is a brief introduction of the artists from whom the creators of TMNT took inspiration. Teenage mutant ninja turtles,…

https://creativeyatra.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/Dr-Yatin-Desai-Orthopaedic-surgeon.jpg The call of the mountains: orthopaedic Dr Yatin Desai’s advice on trekking

In this piece 64 year old Dr Yatin Desai, shares with CY his inspiring story of how to scale towering mountains with utmost ease and how this life adventure activity can shape human character and health. Chances are high that…