This has to be among the city’s most loved plays.
It’s probably the only play LTS did back-to-back, due to public demand. And Mike, the veteran of the Chennai stage came back with what I suspect is his favourite play, this time for Evam.
Biloxi Blues was certainly the highlight of The Hindu Metro Plus Theatre festival. People had to be sent back because the hall was full.
I managed to catch the play on Sunday evening when Evam had its last show for the season.
Though I had seen some of the actors read at a casting session for the play and hence had a rough idea of how funny it would turn out to be, I really hadn’t bargained for the amount of laughing I ultimately ended up doing.
I really think Mike has done a brilliant job putting some amazing talent together, polished their timing with military precision and made you forget the nitty-gritties of the sub-American accent demanded by the content.
He probably went unsung at the festival but its not too late to say: Mike is THE best stage all-rounder we have. Probably in the whole country. And probably the only technician-director-writer-and-actor rolled into one. I didn’t personally like the rhymes in his original musical ‘Fallen’ but I totally admire the guy for his passion and vision. I wish I had half of it. Here’s a man who acted in one, directed two plays apart from chipping in with sets and sound for other plays during the festival.
So here he was in Biloxi bringing alive the role of a seemingly sadistic eccentric sergeant who gives his cadets an education of a lifetime. Mike was spitting fire with his delivery, not floundering even once as he charged through the lines like a man possessed. Here was a man truly in command.
Sunil, who plays Epstein (and Zebra in That Four Letter Word) was clearly the best of the cadets, as he underplayed the role of the philosophical, mentally strong and physically weak cadet who refuses to comply with the idiosyncracies of the military. He strikes a chord and leaves you with a lump in your throat in the scene where he narrates how he was humiliated.
The lead guy and narrator Jimmy who plays Eugene seemed to have overdone the cuteness that made his dialogue delivery a tad effeminate. However, he is effective in the challenging role of a simple neutral cadet who comes of age.
The support cast was even better. I don’t remember the names of the guys but the way they got under the skin of the characters was exemplary. Comedy thrives on timing. These guys were near flawless and the ensemble pulls off an incredibly funny yet thought-provoking bitter-sweet play quite convincingly.
It’s expected to come back in January for at least a coupla shows. So in case you haven’t seen it yet, mark it in your calendar.
And if you do want to help backstage or get onstage and be a part of Evam’s future plays, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Heard they can do with some help.