Lovengers: A colourful albeit unimpressive musical comedy
"Lovengers" has a plot that leaves much to be desired. Outstanding acting alone shines through to save this play.
From the men who gave the theatres a full house with "Le Cages Aux Folle", "Run For Your Wife" and "Chicago" comes an entertaining play packed with a spectrum of tangible emotions. Staged at the Arts Council Karachi from the September 7 to 24, "Lovengers" is LUSH’s first Urdu play.
"Lovengers" is produced by the renowned duo Usama Qazi and Shahzad Qureshi, sponsored by JS Bank and co-sponsored by Tapal Danedar, EFU Life, Alkaram Studio and National Fruitily. With reputations preceding these names, the bar is set very high and "Lovengers" just makes the leap with wonderful music and dance performances.
The play incorporates a professional live band which combines sounds from guitars, violins, drums and keyboards to bring the 60s and 70s back to life. All actors are singing live, and splendidly so, considering none of them are professional actors or singers, but have made a valiant effort to fill the shoes of renowned singers such as Nazia Hassan.
The songs are authentically choreographed with respect to the era depicted and never fail to maintain a visual balance on stage. The first song "Dil Kia Karay", performed by Omi Butt and Zarmeena Yusuf, is beautifully choreographed, creating that one magical moment in the play you cannot forget.
The colour-splashed sets, designed by Naheed Ali, in compliance with the retro theme complement the volatile atmosphere of the play. Complete use of space has been made with four entry points and a balcony to ensure the audience remains captivated - not that the beautiful costumes allow us to take our eyes of these actors in any case!
Shoulders draped in cardigans, shiny white dress shoes, silk shirts with ruffles - the costumes successfully take us back to the disco decades. Although successful in conveying the time period, the ensemble were neither very luxurious nor unique and failed to enhance the characters or the plot.
The play is neither an existing theatrical piece nor the adaptation of one. The original script written by Saqib Sumeer gives life to some very amusing characters but I believe it has a disastrous plot with a very disappointing ending.
The central plot is the shooting of a film on a hospital floor financed by an underworld don who aims to convert his black money into white money. However, each central character adds their own sub plot to the play, creating one plot with one too many sub plots that do nothing good, unfortunately.
The sub plots stop midway and do not fuse together as the play proceeds to a culmination. For example, the assistant director Joji takes his job for the love of his life love Julie and yet Julie doesn’t have a single dialogue in the play! The couple playing Heer Ranjha in the film glance at each other with bashful longing in one scene in the play but their love blooms no further. Leaving stories hanging as so comes across as absurd and just leaves one with a feeling of unease.
The film in the play is being shot in the rented floor of a hospital but we are never told why. After spending two hours watching the characters in the play shoot a movie, we suddenly see a politician march in there to have a rally. A five-line fight erupts between the don and the politician and everyone is shot dead.
"Lovengers" has a plot that leaves much to be desired. It is outstanding acting alone shines through to save this play.
The play unveils the untapped talents of Pakistanis, both young and old. This talent is most transparent in the outstanding performances of Saqib Sumeer and Yazzi Nishazi. Saqib plays the incredible character of Aamil Must Bengali with such authenticity that he could make a fortune sitting outside any mazaar (shrine) he desired. His witty dialogue delivery can make the most sombre man smile.
Yazzi playing Samandar Khan depicted the stereotypical image of Pathan men with perfection. From the bejewelled naara to the Pathani Urdu, he had it all with grace and was believable. All the actors and dancers managed to hold the play together despite the disappointing script.
The verdict: If you are looking to pass a few hours laughing and singing, go. However, if you seek a mind stimulating comedy, "Lovengers" is not for you!
Read more by Mawish here.
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