Koko (or) Why theatre will never die

Why did the chicken in this poster, cross the road???

I was 4 when I had my first brush with the stage. I acted in the production of Shakespeare’s Midsummer’s Night Dream.

I was 17 when I last stepped on stage to act. It was a production of Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew.

I grew up not just watching but also listening to the plays staged by Crazy Mohan and S.Ve.Sekhar.

Basically, my exposure to theatre were either Shakespearean or the superstars of Tamil Theatre.

All of that changed in 2016 when I started watching plays that were not exactly ‘mainstream’. Plays that were made by youngsters; people around my age who wanted to be on stage because of their passion for theatre.

Every time I saw something new or experimental that they dabbled in, I felt them pushing boundaries to stay ahead of the curve.

Koko- A pantomime by Shraddha Productions, in association with MacTrics theatre group was definitely one such attempt to regale and capture the audience’s attention. 

Pantomimes are supposed to be mainly for children and just like good old Tamil Cinema, Koko is aimed at children but has a liberal dose of messages for parents to take home.

Pantomimes are also supposed to have music, topical jokes and slapstick comedy. Koko ticked all these boxes, made a few more of their own and ticked them too.

When a play starts off with a beautifully executed shadow show where the actors proved their mettle even before the spotlight hit them directly, one knows they are in for something truly new and exhilarating.

Koko doesn’t disappoint. A story about a hen, chicken and the Tamil version of The Three Stooges brought the house down with their antics, jokes, acrobatic skills and even aerial gymnastics.

A stage play becomes a success only if the actors performing on stage and the technical team are hand in glove with each other. Especially in a medium like theatre, where there are no second takes, the importance of a well-oiled machine working perfectly is high.

Koko ran like clockwork.

The music and the songs in this play hit the right chords almost immediately it was played. The success of the music lay in the fact that there were people who wanted to listen to the songs again and were interested to know if a soundtrack would be made available soon.

To say that the acting was top-notch would be a big understatement. A play consisting of five characters, three of them doing multiple roles, worked so beautifully because of the efficacy in their portrayal.

A social commentary on the education system and the upbringing skills of a parent laced with liberal doses of humour and enough scenes to tug hard at your heartstrings, Koko is a theatre production that takes itself very seriously in spite of choosing pantomime as their medium.

When the play ended, there were a couple of heavy hearts, many smiling faces, quite a few people still humming the songs from the play and almost all children doing the ‘chicken’ dance and wishing “Good Morning” to each other.

Koko had something for everybody and as an old patron walking away from the Sabha said, “Chinna pasanga… edhedho panraanga… epdi nu therila… aana nalla irukku… rombave… nalla varattum” (Youngsters… They seem to be doing random things… I’m not sure how or why…. But it is good… Very Good… I hope they come up well in life.)

I loved Koko. It had its faults. The good things in the play might not negate those faults, but it can very well make one overlook it.

I sincerely hope everyone gets to watch this play.

A nice reminder that Tamil theatre is in a very young and extremely competent bunch of hands and in this case, bunch of chicken wings and claws.

Why did the chicken in this poster, cross the road???

Unfortunately, to join the Rat Race. 


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