KARACHI: It was exciting to hear that the National Academy of Performing Arts (Napa) was all geared up to stage Agha Hashar’s classic play Yahoodi Ki Larki. Obviously, we went in with a lot of expectations to witness events in ancient Rome come back to life in the 21st century – a time travel of sorts.
While the play promised a complete entertainment package with an on-stage renaissance of the Roman Empire, comic elements and poetic diction to keep the audience glued to their seats, it didn’t quite live up to all the hype. In fact, the show dragged so much in the first half hour that it became unbearable to watch any longer.
The play starred Fawad Khan, Maria Saad Fareedi and Napa faculty member Akbar Islam among others. The performances in the opening scene, especially by Fareedi, were not engaging enough to make the audience want more of them. In fact, they only seemed to have fun during the comedy scenes, which, according to the decades old tradition in Urdu theatre started by Parsis, have no direct connection with the main storyline.
The credit, therefore, must go to Farhan Alam, Zarqa Naz, Muhammad Faraz Chotani and Usman Mazhar for running with the ball and making it entertaining, only for a couple minutes.
This particular theatre tradition also requires use of music performances as transitions between the scenes, increasing the duration of the play. Resultantly, Yahoodi Ki Larki was a two and a half hour long routine, basically as long as any Bollywood film.
However, the musical performances, and most of the actors on stage lacked any energy to keep the audience engaged. In fact, it even served as a distraction, possibly even putting the audience to sleep. On the bright side though, Islam as Brutus the politician in Roman Republic and Nazarul Hasan as an elderly Jew citizen shone luminously in their scenes.
Despite director Khalid Ahmed attempting to stay true to the tradition, the execution of the play had too many loose ends to make the entire performance worth the time.
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