KARACHI: With the latest surge in Karachi’s theatre scene, different festivals are showcasing a variety of plays ranging from comedy to tragedy, modern to period dramas and literary to complete entertainment packages. However, one element that has been missing, are plays targeted towards children. Peedia Entertainment’s Tarzan was a breath of fresh air in that aspect.
Tarzan brought to stage an adaptation of the timeless story of the tree-jumping, animal-mimicking, fruit-eating, jungle-dwelling human. Although the Saturday night performance only filled less than half of the hall, the play was a great entertainment for children. The play is written by Unaiza Ali and directed by well-known theatre actor Rauf Afridi.
The one-hour long performance stars Napa graduate Haris Khan as Tarzan, who fights against his enemy, interestingly named Modi Sardar (Syed Ahmer Hussain). Haris embodies the role perfectly with his over-the-top mannerisms. From his jungle-esque body language – arms hanging and spine bent, to his signature wolf-like yell, he makes the character entertaining and suitable for children to enjoy. Hussain’s character is the exact opposite of Haris, portraying a perfectly straight posture, an eye patch and a pirate look.
The rest of the cast, Faryal Memon (Jane), Saddam Hussain (reporter), Hammad Khan (Jin) and Najma Kifayat (Gudgudi Jadugarni) performed fairly well, especially Hammad and Kifayat. Hammad previously performed in Qissa Sotay Jaagte Ka in a comic side role. Tarzan showed his versatility and the ability of completely transforming himself for the role.
Kifayat, who has previously performed in plays such as Conversations 2016 and Horn De Ke Pass Karo, was a suitable choice for the witch’s role. In no time, she should be able to carry a play by herself.
What made the play even more entertaining was its interactive nature. To create an ambience of the jungle, animals ran through the crowd, stopping by to hiss, howl and screech, much to the childrens’ fascination. Furthermore, the sound and the set completed the engaging experience. The only complaint about the play would be its use of Modi’s name to deliver a political message, which seemed completely out of place.
Irrespective of its minor glitches, the play delivered an entertaining experience for children, which is something to be commended because there isn’t much for them to watch on TV. Today when all the TV serials are aimed at women and political discourse (read: shouting) and films are often catering to adults, there is a gap in Pakistan’s entertainment industry for children programming.
Theatre is one art form which could definitely accommodate children, due to its engaging nature when done right. Tarzan was a great step toward it. The play is being staged at Karachi Arts Council from December 16 to December 26.
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