A Review on RDG's "Anton Chekhov's Vaudevilles"

Hypokrite is RDG's newly formed youth wing. For those who aren't acquainted with the theatre scene in Singapore, Ravindran Drama Group (RDG) is more than just a theatre company. It is an institution and a symbol of Tamil theatre. Almost every stalwart of the Tamil Theatre community in Singapore has come through RDG at some point in time.
For RDG's newly formed youth wing to perform its maiden performance, I was truly excited.  They had chosen to stage 3 different, one act plays written by the late Anton Chekhov ( No, he is not Indian...)

The Bear
This was generally enjoyable.  This involved a grieving widow(played by Pramila), whose late husband had passed on 7 months ago, her male household servant (played by Keith Lee) and landowner (played by kaykay nizam)who comes to Pramila's house to collect a debt owed to him by the late husband.

All 3 were adept in the dialogue delivery and timing. Keith could have improved on his body language.  He seemed rigid and  unnatural on stage. Perhaps the production crew could have made him look like an old man ( make up ,perhaps ). The transition from Kaykay's anger to love was rather rigid and could have been improved. Kaykay had to play a character who is angry that his debt is not settled and yet falls for the widow's strong character. It is not easy to hate and love at the same time. But he did a decent job. Pramila complemented him very well. The both of them had an abundance of energy, abit too much at times.
It was by at large funny and the  funny bone in this play was mostly physical. Special mention must to go to the sets.  KayKay breaking the chair, followed by the table contributed to much of the humour.

The Proposal
This was the least favourite play for me. It involved a neighbour (played by Zhein) who asks his neighbour's (Shirley Sim) daughter's  (Tini Ramli) hand for marriage.  The existing issues between 2 families  make this proposal complicated.
The presentation was just complicated. You have one character who is dressed spot on, looking the part of the Russian character. Tini and Shirley's appearance just looked out of place. Shirley looked like a haggard peranakan home maker while Tini looked like a polytechnic student. There were positives as well, with  Zhein reminding me of Jim Carrey more than once. Overall, this play just felt noisy. The constant fighting between the 3 characters was just too coarse for my liking.

The Anniversary
I guess they saved the best for last. This play was about 2 employees ( Ebi Shankara and Keith Lee) preparing to celebrate their company's 50th anniversary and how it was disrupted by an onslaught of women(Tini Ramli and Pramila), resulting in absolute chaos.  The difference in quality in this play compared to the earlier 2 was overwhelming. This was EPIC !!! I have not laughed like this in such a long time. This play alone, made the entire trip worth it.  Ebi was the shining star. [Ed Note: Yes!!! Our Vasantham Star, Ebi Shankara is an amazing thespian]

In the earlier plays, people were acting out the characters. With Ebi, he became the character.  With Ebi around, I could not help but notice that Ebi's effect was rubbing off on the other cast members. Keith, Pramila and Tini were more convincing in their characters in this play. Special mention to Pramila. Her body language and her style of speaking was spot on. It was amazing that she could sustain it throughout the play.

Back to Ebi, the man was simply too good. His style, the way he says his  character's name, how he pretends to listen to his wife(Tini) while settling work matters with Keith. It was awesome. "Chancee- illai" . I am proud to have been able to witness such an amazing talent on stage.
The Entire Cast

Being the RDG's Youth Wing's Maiden Production, it was just  confusing.  RDG to me, has always been about Tamil Theatre and Indians. Nothing wrong in staging  one or 2 plays in  English.  Watching a play with cast members, all of whom are recent  NAFA graduates with only 2 Indians just did not feel like RDG. It felt more like a  NAFA Alumni Presentation. The choice of Anton Chekhov's Vaudevilles was also a question mark. Was there a reason behind this choice? Perhaps this was a different direction RDG is taking.

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