Chiselled words. Political incorrectness. Insensitivity to gender issues! These aspects may be considered benchmarks of absurd theatre writing. But the complex issues that underlie both “The Attempted Assassination” and “Killing Time” require a lot more play on spatial dynamics to unravel rather than having actors strike intense postures, seated on benches. There was a tendency to make the performances seem realistic, trying to bring the locations alive and treating the spoken words as logical. Why? The form and content of such a theatre demands a way of probing the text, in fact questioning the logic of Timeri Murari’s writing itself. This introspection needs to be done by deconstructing the theatre space, hyperbolic actions, provocative music and even destroying linear time. There were some moments of this between the cellmates but the rest of the two odd hours was just straightforward reading! Yes, it demands a lot of hard work by Deesh and his cast to read beyond the very witty text. Lots of rehearsals rind a lot more training! One understands the demands of time on modern day ‘theatrewalas’ and the tragic fact that such a play may never get a second performance to live out its fragile dreams. And yet the viewing audience demand that ‘theatre’ should not be compromised! “Et tu. my viewers?”
K. Hariharan
The Grossly Commercial Theatre Company international premiere of our own Timeri Murari’s double bill on the anatomy of murder and killing and assassins minds was something Chennai ought to be proud of.
The first play on the attempt to assassinate Salman Rushdie by two naive villagers was a poignant and telling statement on the lure of lucre. It is many things in many layers. These two bumpkins are no different, at one level, from those who make up the agrarian exodus to cities for a better living. At another level, the play is a study of a contaminated human mind that is very Faustian in the hands of the lady who is their Mephisto luring them to sell their soul, to a cause they don’t even comprehend or believe in But in the end it is a very BoBo-Gogo Becketian predicament, having waited for their own Godot, as the realise the futility of it all. This idea was beautiful. Mr Murari had chosen his concept well. But the number of platitudes and clichéd expressions that crept in when the playwright starts getting into psychological and philosophical territory detracted from the theatrical illusion we were getting mesmerised into. The moments of theorising were agonising to say the least. But knowing it is a first performance script and not yet published, there still is time to rework it into a fine piece of theatre.
The second play was nothing to write home about in terms of scripting. But the narrative flow was neater and the dialogues very Fugardian. It reminded me of the two convicts in “The Island” by Athol Fugard. Except these are an old assassin and a young and proud killer. Ishwar was simply fantastic, to put it mildly. ‘The Killing Time” was and will remain an example of what the power of theatre is! If you put two right actors who have a good chemistry and pit their pride and acting talents against each other, you have a coup. It is to the credit of director Deesh Mariwala that this play worked from page to stage. His minimalist style of theatre making complemented an evening that would have been spoilt with sets and sound for distraction. As for the script, though it was taut in its narrative structure and inventive in its cyclical style, I must say I left the hall wondering whether it was the acting or the playwright that won the day. Whatever the truth, Chennai Theatre was the winner and richer for the experience.
Krishna Kumar


As I bought my ticket for “The Attempted Assassination of Salman Rushdie” and “Killing Time”, I wondered what to expect. The synopsis sounded unusual. “The Attempted Assassination of Salman Rushdie” is packed with deeply intellectual exchange, though, given the setting, one may not think so at the first instance. However, it is not the mere musings of the two friends, but their insights and thoughts on violence and the motives that perpetrate acts of violence that reflect the debates on these issues. I was left exploring the various conflicts and inconsistencies in my own opinions and beliefs. However, the setting of the entire conversation seemed a tad unrealistic. If the motive to commit such acts of violence had been bolstered by a deep seated resentment or a need for vengeance, the plot would I have been a lot more convincing.
“Killing Time” had a brilliant dynamism to it. The exchange between the old man and the young “killer” sustained a lucid quality. Ishwar as the young “killer” who had just been brought into the prison cell had all the qualities of a “gang leader”, who despite the physical absence of his “gang”, assumed that as his identity. Due to repeated questioning of a very metaphysical nature by the old man, a fellow cellmate, the young prisoner is left feeling very unsettled. Balakrishnan, who plays the old man, portrays the mingled cynicism and the deep seated inquiry into his character with sophistication and élan. Anusha Hariharan.