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Miserly love

Miserly love
November 27
11:39 2021

Miserly loveArchana Asthana

The conflict of money and love is classic, and is no less relevant today than it was in 1668, when the play, “L’avarice”, written by Moliere, the French playwright was first staged. In its Indian avatar, it was presented as “Miser” by Naatak at Cubberley Theater in Palo Alto over the first two November weekends and was their last production of the year.

Reimagined and directed by Manish Sabu, produced by Alka Sippy, the essentials remain true to the original, but have modern twists. Love reigns supreme, and the lovers are united with whoever or whatever they love…those that love people, or those that love their wealth! A traditional comedy, a farce, with predictability of events and endings plays out; and just when you begin to sense a dated theme, witty dialogue and brilliant acting resets the course to enjoyment.Miserly love

Seth Hariprasad’s progenies have both fallen in love, and fear their father’s wrath when he is apprised of the situation. His plans for his daughter Ekta (Roshni Datta) and son Kamlesh ( Deepinder Ojha) is to marry into wealth without dowry exchanges. Further, he informs them of his own intention to marry…the same girl that his son has fallen in love with, creating the eternal love triangle. The plot is the journey through this maze, and using money as a lure and resolution to make the miser yield to the lovers’ wishes.

The shenanigans indulged in by the actors to drive home the greed and manipulation by all parties are a good balance of slapstick, classic physical comedy and witty dialogue delivered convincingly. Naatak has consistently brought in new actors who have never disappointed in their ability to produce quality performances.

Miserly loveThe main character role, played by Mohammad Zishan justifies his casting to the hilt, as do the support cast.  Sabu’s direction narrates the story faithfully swathed in jaunty vignettes and histrionics.: Hariprasad’s utter misery at learning he has lost all his wealth; the discovery that it is recoverable shadows all else and his glee is palpable; the erstwhile lovers, Madhuri (Geetika Shree) and Kamlesh confessing and professing their love simultaneously as she is wooed by his father; Vijay (Rohit Dube) placing himself in Hariprasad’s employment to gain his trust and stay close to his daughter while catering to his conceit and ego;  Fahaad (Parin Maru), Hariprasad’s servant conniving to secure a loan for the son from his own father; Fareeda’s outrageous matchmaking skills as she presents Madhuri as a good match for Hariprasad, highlighting her austere lifestyle and dislike of expensive things as a cost saving, the bawarchi’s elaborate banquet menu in an effort to resuscitate Hariprasad’s reputation as a miser while repeating the myriad unsavory things the community says about him enraging him no end! The audience appreciation was audible as continuous laughter.LR-6034-L

The unchanging stage setting and props provided a focal point for the drama to be played out involving all characters. From the court of the French kings to the stage in Bay Area, Moliere’s farcical satire about love and wealth is experienced in the same mirthful way. Finally, Sabu’s introductory and closing remarks reveal a witty self- deprecating humor, most befitting the behind the scenes powerhouse for this production.

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