Ek Jaam, Auntiyon ke Naam

Theater is anything but dead. This would be the first thought that would have come to your mind if you were at Sri Ram Auditorium over the weekend to watch Dramatech’s thirtieth production, Ek Jaam, Auntiyon ke Naam (A Toast, in Honor of the Aunties). A full house, sponsorship from ONGC, and a standing ovation is the perfect sign of the fact that the television and movie halls may have taken the gloss off from plays, but will not be able to put an end to them for a long, long time at least.

Directed by Ravi Raj Sagar, the play is Ranjit Kapoor’s adaptation of “Arsenic, and Old Lace”. The English version was written by American playwright Joseph Kesselring in 1939, and it ran 1444 performances making it one of the top ten grosser of all time. The participants in Dramatech’s production consisted of enthusiasts of all types. There were working professionals, students from IIT Delhi, entrepreneurs, and homemakers, all working to achieve one thing: making you laugh over and over again.

The story revolves around two old sisters, Martha and Rosa, who live near a cemetery. They pretend to rent out one of the rooms of their home to old Christian men who have no family and no where to go. Whenever such a person arrives at their house, they offer him some wine which they had poisoned, and by killing him, do “social service” by relieving him of all his sufferings that he faces because of his prolonged existence. When their nephew Bobby comes to know about their doings, he can’t believe that his innocent Aunties could actually commit such a crime. His discovery leads a long spell of events that could leave you hysterical, especially when his elder brother Jonathan arrives, having run away from home a long time ago, along with his partner-in-crime Doctor Lagoo. Throw in a mentally challenged nephew Alfie who thinks he is Adolf Hitler, a constable who wants to become a playwright, and a Priest’s daughter who knows more about life than her father would like her to.

Ek Jaam… proved to be two of hours of pure comedy, and I’m not talking about the retarded comedy of Akshay Kumar-Katrina Kaif movies. The first act may leave you a little bit disappointed, since despite it’s moments you feel it lacks something, but the second and the third would make you want to hold on to your tummies and hope that they would take a small break so that you could stop laughing for a while. Ek Jaam…was more than worth the money, and it’s heartening to see that theater is still getting such a great response at a time when hardly anyone talks of it. The next performances would take place on the 24th and 25th of January and one 6th and 7th of February. So, if you have some cash and time to burn on those days, head to Sri Ram Auditorium, buy yourself and buy yourself a ticket. You won’t regret it.

Raveesh Bhalla

[Image source: http://www.waverley.nsw.gov.au/info/pavilion/images/theatre.jpg]