Back in 2016, Rajesh PI (The director of the play) told me about this idea of exploring Navarasa (9 elemental emotions) in a series of stories or acts or a character journey (conceiving phase). It was great to see that idea now transformed into a 90-mins theatre experience. Yes, it’s not exactly a play or show but, a theatre experience combining 9 acts exploring deepest roots and meaning of a respective emotion.
This review is for the 5th performance of the play. Also, there are no spoilers.
Story and structure:
As the light and music give the cue, the play begins with Shringara (Love) followed by Bhayanaka (Terror)
The beginning was slow with less energy, but it really picked up from the fourth act, Bhibatsya (disgust) which was one of the stand-out or probably the most memorable acts including the second half of Veera (courage), Raudra (Anger), Hasya (laughter) and Shanta (peace). Adbhuta (wonder) started nicely but was a missed-chance to amaze, if only it had gone a little longer with more playfulness with the audience. All other acts were flat due to less energy and/or the absence of dramatic moments.
To be clear, I am analysing these acts solely based on the fact that it should invoke the similar emotion to the audience.
Personally, I need a story to be experienced or emoted rather than told. The storytelling as a narration doesn’t work unless accompanied by well-impacted dramatic movements and perfect blocking according to the lights. Here, Bhibatsya and Raudra shine utilising personal stories and perspective theatre supported by breathtaking performance under the subtle as well as unsettling light settings and high tempo hums & singing with the medium-paced music on a live acoustic guitar.
Hasya act which was the only short one act play has a good coordination among actors but, without any actual complaints, I would have liked it to go with more pace and some additional punches (there are lots of scope in between).
Finishing the entire performance with a musical (and dance) piece, Shanta (peace) was a nice touch for a beautiful finesse.
Music & Light: If anything was consistent throughout the length of the performance, it was music. It has amplified the effect of the good acts but, most importantly, made the weakest acts bearable.
Light cues were nicely put with mostly seamless transitions and quick switch whenever required.
Overall, Navarasa is a good treat for the people who would like to understand the nine elemental emotion but it has a scope to delve deeper.