A play about love, loneliness, greed and deceit – and amazingly, it’s a comedy.
Three characters on stage (rather four – one’s in a "double role") exchange witticisms through which Double Vision unfolds. The story hinges on Spinks, a retired, lonely boxer who pretends to have won a big lottery in order to get some fame and friends. An alcoholic pal Kingsley with a secret of his own, and a mysterious pair of twin sisters (both played by Kshama Ravishankar) complete the cast.
We gradually pick up threads about the characters’ lives through their banter – Spinks’s less-than-ideal upbringing, his reluctance to admit to his failing eyesight (which provides some good laughs) and his failed career, Dawn’s religiosity and Donna’s craftiness.
There are revelations towards the end, none of which are terribly surprising – not that it matters; this is a comedy not a suspense thriller.
In performing a British play, getting the dialogue delivery right can be a challenge for Indian actors. (The Importance of Being Earnest for example, where the cast couldn’t really pull it off.) Kishore Acharya (Spinks) and Prakash Iyengar (Kingsley) did pretty well with voice modulation and Spinks was spectacularly funny, but expressions like "Blimey!" did not roll off their tongues naturally. I wonder if in play adaptations, minor details like that could be modified to suit local accents. The repeated mispronunciation of "Greenwich" also struck a discordant note.
All the action takes place in Spink’s tenth-floor apartment, so the crew had it easy in terms of set changes. The make-up man on the other hand must have had lots to do. Kshama Ravishankar switches from Dawn to Donna and back with amazing alacrity. One’s face shorn of make-up, the other’s plastered with it – how did they manage to shuttle between the two avatars so quickly?
I was puzzled by the behaviour of the lights. They would dim in the middle of a scene for no apparent reason, then the lights on the sides would turn so intense that we (3rd row) had to shield our eyes a couple of times. To make matters worse, the power went off for a few seconds. (Never seen that happen at Ranga Shankara before.) The sound system made a funny noise in between. Someone’s cellphone rang and its owner took a long long time to fish it out of her handbag and turn it off.
For all the external distractions, the cast managed elegantly especially when the lights failed. They froze still while the stage was dark and restarted with a small rewind.
Eric Chappell is not a playwright I’ve ever read, and TopCast is not a theatre group I’ve seen perform before. I came back pleased with both.
There’s another show of Double Vision at Ranga Shankara today (24th March 2010) 7.30pm. Catch it if you can.