We’ve heard it all before. The poignant tale of a qualified youth, who goes job hunting, flashing his credentials from employer to employer till it boils down to influential references and price tags, rather than grades and accolades.
There’s much heartbreak, followed by frustration and then ways of channelising the rejection. While some resort to dejection, others take the escapist route, making do by hook or crook.
‘Draikula’ is the story of one such individual, who, demoralised by the system, haunts people’s minds by day and robs their houses by night. His enterprising nature is reciprocated by an evil genius for his own good.
Written by Javaid Shakeel and directed by Anjum Malik, the play is a satire of sorts of the games people play, veiled behind seemingly petrifying appearances yet forced into the circumstances. The play mocks the system for it’s inequity. Staged at the Pakistan National Council of Arts on Wednesday, the quirky characters make for the hilarity of an otherwise hard-hitting theme.
The plot opens in a middle-class home, not much different from the average comic sitcoms seen on local television. The idiosyncratic family offers plenty tear-jerkers, through snappy dialogue and over-the-top comedy. Borrowing humour from contemporary film culture (Munni badnaam and Sheila jawaan), the jokes are anything but original. Yet the storyline is supported by powerful acting, comic timing and smart use of the stage by animated gestures and dancing.
The protagonist, acted out by Abeer Shah, lives up to his frightening reputation. Clad in the legendary long black suit, the makeup and twitching gestures complement the persona.
The vampire-esque teeth and exaggerated expression ring many bells for ardent Christopher Lee fanatics. Shah carried that ominous air, without trying too hard or looking funny.
The entire team of the performing troupe, Pearl Communications, played out their respective parts with sheer gusto and near-perfect comic timing. To entertain, without being carried away is the challenge every cast faces and it’s safe to say this one won out.
Amongst the memorable characters, Tufail the submissive servant, ‘Thaila’, was acted out by the director himself, who told The Express Tribune, “I’ve targeted the social evils of the society- be it corruption, unemployment or the inevitable frustration. There’s much economic crisis and business crunch in the country and I’ve explored the lighter side of that, while sending out the message to still work hard to get an education.”
The audience, doubling with laughter in their seats and hooting out that odd comment, took home a powerful point to ponder upon.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 20th, 2011.
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