Wednesday, October 15, 2008

150 words on Evam's "Doubles, Triples and Quadruples"

150 words are never going to be enough to properly review (a subjective opinion, of course) any play, let alone one as eclectic and kaleidoscopic as Doubles, Triples and Quadruples still I take it up, candidly convinced of the impending failure, because it's not always that you find failing at something more gratifying than succeeding at it. So then, let the word count begin.

Doubles, Triples and Quadruples is not a play, and to call it so would be to strip it of its essence. Played out in seemingly disparate segments punctuated with interludes where each of the actors address the audience directly "not hiding beneath the veneer of a character" anymore, it's not so much a play as it is an experience. And throw in a few interactive exercises involving the audience and you have a new breed of play where the didacticism of the stage form is replaced by a more accessible embrace of the audience. Not that the audience doesn't like to be spoken down to, but where would we all be if there wasn't some change every once in a while?

Each of the segments depicts the characters at decisive moments in their lives, featuring some well crafted scenes and lively, witty writing that highlights the quirks of human nature, bringing out the humour and emotion in what would otherwise be just another of those unnoticed moments that pass us by. Be it the newly wedded couple arguing pointlessly at the threshold of their marital bliss or the disgruntled, materialistic young man who is inadvertently confronted with his Oedipus complex or the familiar strangers who finally discover each other thanks to a goodbye, everybody is at a point which could chart the rest of their lives.

The performances by the actors in the segments are, needless to say, more than adequate and they deserve to be commended for that but it was the interludes that were the most captivating of the lot. Sure, some of them were hilariously done and had the audience in splits but there was more to them than met the eye. Art is not just about the artist expressing himself but also about him exploring himself through it and these interludes help each of them do exactly that. As one of them put it, it's always easier to "hide beneath the veneer of a character than to come out in the open and bare yourself to a bunch of strangers every night" which is why it makes the play a truly enriching and cathartic experience for all the actors involved and for the audience for being a part of it.

There are many memorable characters, many memorable lines and many memorable performances in this play but none of them is as momentous as the simple door frame that adorns the minimalist backdrop of the stage all through it. It is the motif that ties all the disconnected segments of the play together, sometimes as an active component of the plot, sometimes as an innocent bystander, but nonetheless ever present, reminding us all that happiness in life is never too far away and that to find it, all you need to do is walk through the door.