Direction : Trishla Patel
Writer : Trishla Patel, Shashank VishnuDutt
Cast : Karan Desai, Gillian Pinto, Mallika Singh, Anchal Poddar, Nikhil Desai, Prashant Amlani, Hitesh Malukani, Kabeer Khosla and Vaasil Khan

GROWING UP Play Review

Anil D'Souza

No upcoming shows.

''Growing up'' isn't always an easy thing to do - especially for a child at the threshold of adolescence as puberty strikes its magical wand of surreptitious and inevitable change. Hormonal changes can perplex a growing child often to the point of confusion and anxiety, which can exacerbate when unaided.

GROWING UP - A PLAY ON PUBERTY attempts to introduce adolescents to the bewildering process as well as its beauty. Four charming adolescents dot the narrative with a magical ''Growing-Up'' book and Kuku the Clown sharing his secrets of growing up. But Kuku is cursed by an evil frog. This curse unfolds a delightful narrative which takes the children and adults through an enjoyable journey into which are woven practical messages about growing-up.

The theme is apt for our society which is still grappling with old biases and traditions, and while there is easy access to information on the Internet, the transition still requires sensitivised support of parents and teachers. One of the core issues of being an adolescent is self-consciousness of the body, significantly enhanced in the day and age of the selfie. The age old question of changes in feeling towards the opposite sex continues to remain, yet this and other issues can be more successfully addressed today. However as Indian society also transforms, there are newer issues relating to narcissim, body shaming, and more casual attitudes towards sex, alcohol and drugs, that could be explored in the context of puberty as well since puberty is both a biological and a sociological phenomenon.

Here though, the concept of puberty is still within the realm of the familiar while it slowly eases the delicate subject into the awkward space between an adolescent and the parent in the audience. The play is highly interactive. The introductory part presents a wonderful opportunity to break the ice with the audience. Hitesh Malukani quite effortlessly slips into various characters and along with Shashank Vishnu Dutt as the sardonic Dadi, both deftly hold the performance together. The growing up teens Prashant Amlani, Sujay Shah, Anchal Poddar and Mallika Singh team up well along with Gillian Pinto as Fat Bum Aunty and the rest of the crew.

GROWING UP - A PLAY ON PUBERTY, directed by Trishla Patel explores a sensitive subject but it has a more benign approach. It's time for the content and presentation to get bolder and to create some constructive discomfort between the growing-up kid and the parent, with a few pointers on how to take the conversation forward after one exits the theatre.

*Anil D'Souza enjoys commenting on drama and its versatility in mirroring our lives.

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