Published by City Buzz dated 12 Aug 2011
The Hindu Metroplus Theatre Fest 2011 brought on stage ‘chasing my Mamet duck’ by the Chennai based Evam on Saturday. Before the show began, we were sufficiently warned that this wasn’t a ‘play’; it was indeed an experience for all the participants (including the viewers).
The pathway to the show is an experience centre, which takes one through several interactive exhibits – golden bags which tease one’s sense of touch, pinwheels dancing to a song, a gift box from where you can take what you wish in exchange for something you have and a wish tree bearing wishes for the world.
The show begins with a long comfortable silence where all one does is ‘listen’. The show itself is a collection of episodes – conversations of two men about ducks intertwined with interactive sessions with the audience. The conversations between the two men are adaptations of David Mamet’s ‘The duck variations’ where ducks are merely metaphors for various aspects of human life like meaning, hope, happiness, sorrow, all the way to death. In between these are innovative sessions of music, short films, impromptu dance performances and auctions of wishes. Evam likes to call it ‘trans-theatre’, where theatre transforms into something that transcends.
Chasing my Mamet duck is not a story played out on stage. It is not a linear narrative of someone’s life. In fact, it is a tickling of beautiful memories from the audience’s lives. This part of the show where the narrator (in a not so conventional sense of the word) asked the audience to type out the names of their first love and text it to a mobile number, only to see post-its of those names stuck on the mammoth duck outside the auditorium. In another, the audience is given 2 minutes to recommend great food to the person sitting next to them. Every such session was only to impress upon the need for spreading joy in the world.
Priya who was evidently nostalgic at the end of the play said, “I haven’t watched anything that touched my heart in a long time. Most plays tell us a story that we watch from a distance. This show played out my own life in front of my eyes.”
Spreading the joy was not devoid of satire. The episode where the narrator explains the painting on the wall which remains fixed while the credits to it keep changing emphasise in a hilarious way how we judge things by who created it and not what it means. The ‘fabulous human race’ – which is a collection of Youtube videos of humans as seen by people from the future – is also a fantastic satire about what we as humans enjoy.
While talking about what inspired this adaptation of the show apart from David Mamet’s writing, Karthik Kumar, the director says, “There is so much apathy in urban lives. We do not want to be surprised. We are sceptical about the people around us. In the end, I wasn’t looking to direct a hit play. I was looking to build a happy place. We are glad that the Hindu Metroplus Theatre Fest gave us that opportunity”.
‘Chasing my Mamet duck’ is a new form of theatre to the Indian audience. A new form of theatre that is most welcome.