For reasons unknown, a writer has to be mysterious. He alone has the right to wander aimlessly and yet with a purpose (known only to him of course) in any of those unfathomable realms of his creative genius’ expanse. The SKELETON WOMAN, written and performed by Prashant Prakash and Kali Koechlin and directed by Nayantara Kotian, cashes in on this rather romantic idealism of what writers can be like.
Our writer (Prashant Prakash) – the protagonist of the play, while making all these necessary heroic impacts cannot get to the end of any of his stories. He has a whole collection of half-written short stories, poems and novellas. He tends to live through the stories while writing them. Now and again his understanding yet more pragmatic wife (Kalki Koechlin) pulls him down from his fanciful flights into the reality of the world surrounding them. She helps him with his stories and earns for the family of the two while he does nothing except bask in the imagination of his stories. But this dosen’t really help him or the play-except for creating certain humorous sequences that at times seem unnecessary and gimmicky.
A goose enters the plot of a story that our writer-protagonist is currently writing and a pointless discussion about its life follows. This is supposedly the playwrights’ another attempt at dry humour. References to Hemingway’s ‘Old Man And The Sea’ occur and you strive hard to find a connection. But if you are among the ones who haven’t read the book (like me), they pass by without making an impact. In all this, a hand of a skeleton comes up a few times and at least you feel satisfied for hearing something similar to the title of the play. A twist in the end forms the icing on the cake and this gimmick really throws the audience out of their seats.
Nayantara Kotian as a debutante director is pretty impressive though. Certain devices employed by her make the play a tad richer in its presentation. The use of paper to demonstrate the various property on stage is very effective. It gives a very raw, crude feel to the proceedings and adds to the theatrical effect. The scene transitions are timed well too. Naren Chandavarkar’s music plays a crucial role in elevating the mood of important scenes. The stylized movements set to music are fairly impressive. Sujay Saple works wonders with his lights right from the start of the play, when he gives us an image of the silhouette of a sailor against a clear sky. His formations and effects through the duration of the play are a delight to watch and they enhance the metaphor of the sea, which is constantly present in the writer’s consciousness.
Prashant Prakash strives hard to play the eccentric writer convincingly. He aims at the moon but manages to land himself in the stars. Kalki Koechlin as the wife, doesn’t have to struggle much as the role demands a simple, straight-forward, realistic attitude. However she is equally convincing in the surreal parts of the play. The actors being the playwrights themselves, seemed to know what they were doing. It would have been a lot better though if one knew why they were doing it.
*Asmit Pathare is a young theatre enthusiast. His theatre experience dates back to his college days in Sangli. He has actively participated and assisted in various theatre productions. He writes poetry too and has his own blog.