Mahendra Excellence Theatre Awards (META) this year was special. It had a host of mind-numbing beautiful plays and the jury would have had a very tough time in selecting the winners.
Soliloquies were common in META 2017 and here is one gem that we can’t get out of our heads still now.
“Elephant in the Room” is written by Sneh Sapru. She gives an interesting and quirky twist to our familiar tale of Ganesha’s losing his head due to his father’s wrath and having an elephant head attached instead. What starts as a lighthearted encounter between little Ganesh (Master Tusk in the play) and his surrounding throws up some poignant food for thought.
Like many of us, Master Tusk looks for his father’s approval throughout his journey. Further, he comes across the old elephant whose cub was killed and the head placed on Master Tusk. We bleed from inside we encounter the comical eccentric elephant dad mourning his son.
The stage and the lighting show great mastery and create a dream environment inside Shri Ram Centre. In fact, this play has bagged the best light design award this year. The lovely costume and makeup on the actor Yuki Ellias gives the character a contemporary but timeless look. Parts of the costume doubles us as props in the play taking the design to a totally different level. Therefore it is no surprise that this play has bagged the best costume award as well.
To save the best for the last, we are completely overwhelmed by the skills of the sole actor Yuki Ellias. She is also the director and it is not tough to see her strong attachment to this piece. What starts as a lighthearted piece of comical work builds momentum throughout the barely one hour show. Ellias starts with laughter – as Master Tusk and Makdi (spider) and Makdi’s lover the poacher Moork. In no time we are on an emotional roller coaster with her sitting on the edge of the seat thinking about Master Tusk’s father’s wrath or mourning the elephant cub’s death. Its an inexplicably refined performance and she very worthily collects the best female actor award this year.
This production is perfect on all scores including a neat one hour duration. Elephant in the room is a must watch not only for the unusual twist to the Ganesha tale but also a glaring instance of what modern theater in India is about.