Murder They Play: Fourth Wall Theatre debuts in Bengaluru with their play 'Skewed'

Here's a sneak peak into the production

Prattusa Mallik Published :  17th March 2023 12:00 AM   |   Published :   |  17th March 2023 12:00 AM
A scene from the play

A scene from the play

When Mahesh SP came on board to direct Skewed, which is now the first production by the new city-based theatre group Fourth Wall Theatre, the English play was a regular whodunit.  Almost nine months later, when it’s all set to have its first show today, the play has morphed into a reflection on feminism and victimisation by the media in modern times.

On the face of it, the plot seems simple. Set in the hill town of Madikeri during a Sankranti, the play opens with the protagonist Divya (played by Soumya Pujari) finding her husband Kiran mysteriously dead at their home. Soon, the case escalates in the media as Kiran happens to be a police inspector. News publications be gin to come up with conspiracy theories around the murder – a love triangle vic-
timising Divya. When the police attempt to unravel the mystery, we begin to get insight into the
lives of the couple and lives of the other characters around them.

A scene from the play

And each of these characters have a distinct life-world. For instance, Varun (Vilok V Kowsik) is a police officer and Kiran’s colleague, who also becomes a close friend to Divya. However, under the reserve of an inspector lies a man passionate about hearts who can suddenly burst into a monologue from Julius  Caesar. Or Kiran’s friend, the divorcee Sanjana (Jeevitha P Raju), who questions the popular belief that marriage makes a woman more secure. But how does one come up with the idea of such a story?

Director Mahesh SP shares, “The initial idea came from a short story by Roald Dahl (Lamb to the Slaughter). Soon, we realised that a film based on that has already been made, the Taapsee Pannu-starrer Haseen Dillruba. We did not want our play to be the same. But that did not seem a problem at all; because with more readings, Skewed organically started to flesh out into something completely dif ferent.” Mahesh,Vilok, Arvindh S Kumar and Gayathri Narayan have written the play together, featuring poetry by Vidya Pathikonda. Excerpts from The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir are also in a scene.

A scene from the play

The play follows a linear narrative, interspersed by a few scenes with magic realism. To that effect, the costumes are all in pastel shades and the set design – minimalistic. Talking about the use of light, Mahesh says, “We’ve used footlights during dramatic scenes. Otherwise, the light design is very intimate. I’ve also worked a lot on blocking.” On the use of music, he comments, “The music, composed by Abhimanyu Bhupati, has elements of Indian and Western classical. Music is not used throughout the play – it is used only when we have to convey to the audience exactly what we want to convey about the story.”

All these techniques also hint at the intent of making the story seem closer to reality. When asked, Mahesh echoed that through plays like these, the group also wants to further the culture of ‘intimate theatre’ in Bengaluru. And for the play’s audience, what does the director aim to be the take-away? “It’s difficult to answer this without sounding didactic,” Mahesh smiles, “but one thing that has happened to us while working on the play is that we’ve all become a lot more sensitised in the last few months. We’ve become more careful as to not give into the culture of believing in rumours or breaking news anymore. We hope watching our play takes the audience on a similar kind of journey.”

Skewed promises to be a story away from black-and-white crime dramas. So, if you are someone who is intrigued by inquisitions that challenge mainstream narratives, this play is a must-watch!

INR 200. March 17, 7.30 pm. At KH Kala Soudha, Banashankari.

Email: prattusa@newindianexpress
Twitter: @MallikPrattusa

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