Evam’s latest titled ‘Urban Turban’ or The Show, is a departure from their usual plays. ‘Tall tales from the top of our heads’, says the tagline – which about sums it up. These are stories narrated in stand-up comedy style, which keep you engaged and entertained for a good hour.
The debut show at Kyra, Bangalore began with a goofy short act by director Sunil Vishnu, after which Karthik Kumar took over with his ‘toilet woes’. He had a lot to say, tongue-firmly-in-cheek, about the horrific impact of modern public loo design on the fabric of society. Shannon McDonnell followed next, sharing experiences about settling into urban India from a westerner’s point of view. Another short act by Sunil, then back again to Karthik in the finale with the wackiest stories ranging from endangered species to ovens and baking [this mind you has nothing to do with cooking. To know more, you have to watch the show!]
Urban Turban works primarily because of Karthik Kumar. This is just his kind of thing (unlike Algernon in The Importance Of Being Earnest). To keep an audience spellbound when talking of the intricacies of a crocodile’s jaw movements is no mean feat, but the man can do it.
That said, Karthik’s first act felt slightly raw. There was some mixing up of the lines, and a couple of jokes were repeated/stretched beyond the point of funny. A little pruning is needed over there. The closing act was superb, with a lot of jumping around over myriad topics yet all strung together extremely well.
Shannon has a great voice. As Lady Bracknell in The Importance Of Being Earnest, she was easily the best of the cast. In Urban Turban though, I felt that her portion was off the mood of the rest of the show. We were taking Karthik’s nonsensical chatter with smiles and a pinch of salt, but when the stage went to Shannon we suddenly didn’t know how to react. Her story was too real. Besides, those of us with friends from the US [yeah, I weaved that in, Evam please note :)] who visit India have heard close versions of this story many times before. The cows and the traffic have the same impact on anyone from the West, they’re like clichéd motifs of the country. I wish Shannon had given those parts of her experiences a miss, and focussed only on the unexpected and the absurd.
Sunil Vishnu was good in the little time he showed up. A longer act from him will be most welcome.
This was my first visit to Kyra, so I’m not sure if they’re generally late but it wasn’t nice to be kept waiting for the play to start. The play was delayed far beyond the promised 2.30pm. Was this Evam’s dig at the Indian lax attitude towards time?
A bigger quibble is that the show did not contain all that its media coverage/promos led us to expect. For one, the Facebook page for the event mentions T M Karthik, Navin Balachandran and Rabhinder Kannan but they did not make an appearance on stage.
Evam’s blog suggests that the event is 90 minutes long, but it was surely nearer 60 minutes.
Also, the report on mybangalore says:
The Show at Kyra will stir up issues that we, as urban citizens, face in our daily life….To marry or to not marry? Arranged or love? Change the job or the city or the boss? To tweet or not to tweet? …
Other than a fleeting reference to arranged marriage, the other topics are not brought up at all. I wonder if the show is still a work-in-progress, and today’s performance an incomplete version of the real deal that the folks in Chennai are going to get next month?
But I’ll leave aside the nitpicks since I did have a great time. With excellent food at Kyra, friends for company and some nice laughs during the show, it was an afternoon well-spent.