The Dark Lord – A Review

A week ago, I had attended the Landing Stage’s dramatization of the Dark Lord, which was an attempt to bring Krishna’s life on stage. The play follows Krishna, from his escapades as a cowherd in Gokul, through his time as the emperor of Dwaraka and ends at his death. Now Krishna, is one mythological character nobody can get enough of, and was obviously an excellent premise for a dramatic presentation, but failed to leave an impression, as one would expect in plays like these.
The script is at fault, maybe. It told too many things and somehow, seemed inconsistent. Maybe its some kind of a posh theatre thing (order is so 90’s, dahling!), but give me a ballast and call me a tubelight, I just didn’t get it!
The play was just so intent on documenting Krishna’s darker and more human side – that of the emotional manipulator, the inattentive husband, the wily advisor and hell, even the irresponsible boyfriend, you’re actually left wondering why all the other characters whom he uses, love him so much, considering his shady deeds and such.
Also, I found the background music very tiresome. Apparently they had a lady singing live but she wasn’t good I’m afraid. While we do not expect Sudha Raghunathans or Ranjani-Gayathris surely they could have found someone who could reach a better pitch! In the scene where Krishna delivers the Bhagavad Gita to Arjuna, the sanskrit verse was simultaneously recited along with the dialogue which meant that what actually travelled to the audience was well, gibberish.
Actually the play had a lot going on, which meant that there was a good lot of compromise in building each character. So personally, I couldn’t really connect with any of the dramatis personae (I can be posh too you know), except maybe Gandhari’s bored looking slave-maid. However, the play did see some remarkable, remarkable acting talent from Vaibhav Srinivasan Shyam Sunder who played Krishna. The penultimate scene, where he waits for death, in particular, he is fantastic. Another notable performance would be Prarthana Chandrasekaran’s potrayal of Radha. Anusha Venkatraman, who played Draupadi however, came across as a tad annoying. But then again, her role wasn’t the conventional I-am-Krishna’s-sister Draupadi, but a Draupadi who is actually in love with Krishna (scandalous!). So more than feeling anything for her, we are just left confused because clearly the audience has different reference points where she is concerned. In my opinion, this character needn’t have been this complicated because Krishna’s story is tangled enough as it is.
The play tries to tell us that Krishna did all these things to fulfil a greater destiny, a greater good. Only, we are left scratching our heads wondering as to what exactly the aforementioned good was.
At the end of it all, it wasn’t a bad play, but I wish they’d showed us a little more of the Krishna about whom our grandfathers told us stories about. The Krishna who always came to save you, no matter what. The Krishna for whom we make cheedai every year. The Krishna we love, the Krishna we believe.
*Please note: The writer hasn’t seen too many plays before. She hopes to see more, and she only will if you’re nice to her. 😀


My association with the mainstream theatre scene in Chennai is very, very limited (The last proper play I saw was something to do with Chankayashastra and business principles, a 11th standard kaamars shtudends school trip, and my knowledge of theatre personalities is worse, I’m acquainted only with sound guys and the lot).
Not something I’m particularly proud of, but it’s not something I worry about either.
So when Prashant called me for ASAP’s production of “Sketch It” at the Alliance Francaise, I was quite indifferent to the whole deal, all I knew was that I had weekend plans, which was enough to make me happy.
I did do a bit of research before I went though, The Play, apparently was a “breakthrough effort” “a new transformation in the field” since “Its not a complete play as such. It has mimes, skits, and stand ups. All these are elements of theatre but its more like a collage”.
Apparently .
The play started on quite a promising note and started deteriorating with every act.
There were number of different ideas (The sketches varied from “Welcome to Hell” to “First Date” to “Mallu in Bookshop”) that the play had tried to cover but didn’t quite make the grade.

There’s plenty of swearing/finger-popping/innuendo in the show, which can get overbearing after a while – there is a limit to the number of dick jokes we can take. Then there was the whole concept of originality. Sure, the concept of “collage-ing” was all fine and dandy, but flicking Bhagyaraj film jokes (the very very famous “ek gaon mein ek kisaan raghuthatha” scene) is just not it.
Also, some of the acts just weren’t funny – the Indian restaurant in London “gag” didn’t make the mark and the Awards ceremony sketch (where every other theatre group was mercilessly targetted) wasn’t all ho-ho-ho either. The scene with the Wedding Speeches was notably moronic (Fellatio obsessed priest, sexually hyper-active best man, the works).

However, there were genuinely funny moments in the play as well, the Elizabethan parody really hit the spot and so did the “First Date” episode, but the most impressive was the “Invisible Man” concept.
Overall, it was a good effort for two guys on stage facing a half-empty auditorium, nevertheless, something missing somewhere.

Watch it if you have absolutely nothing to do or have an intense liking for innuendo fueled humour.

It’s currently playing at The Alliance Francaise – there are 4.00pm & 7.30pm shows, tickets available at Landmark.

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