Direction : Akshay Raheja and Gaurav Singh
Cast : Raghav Seth, Kumar Abhimanyu, Nikie Bareja, Rochan Mathur, Ramita Menon, Gaurav Singh, and Vanshika Verma

LIFELINE 99 99 Play Review

Parul Rana

 LIFELINE 99 99 Review

LIFELINE 99 99 is an unconventional play that takes place on a phone call, and the audience is given the option to choose from seven distinct, live, and interactive stories that'll tell you something about the fate of humanity in the times to come. The audience member calls on the provided phone number, where they hear an IVRS voice that asks them certain questions and subsequently connects them to the chosen topic from the experiences available on a one-on-one conversation. The audience has the liberty to choose from any of these options- a conflicted sex chat operator, an aggrieved idealist, a dude alien, a morbid insurance agent, a memory alteration researcher, an ethical scammer, or art itself, personified. Once you select your preferences, you receive a call within the next 10-15minutes.

The premise of the show is set by the topic chosen by the audience member and in the language and the level of interaction they are comfortable with.

The performer initiates a story related to the chosen option, and the theme is interconnected with the times we are living in. The audience member has the liberty to ask questions, offer suggestions to the other person's problems, discuss their views and perspective, and also the freedom to take the story in whichever direction they want to. The content and duration of the talk depends on the interactivity level of the audience member. Therefore, no two shows are the same, each show is a personalized version with each audience member.

The audience is able to use their imagination to immerse themselves into the world painted by the caller at the other end. Similarly, the performers use improvisation and imagination to paint the picture and maneuver the entire conversation. What leads to the end result of the phone call is a co-effort between the audience member and the performer. The interaction leaves with thought-provoking questions including: Can genuine human connections be created in this age of growing indifference and shrinking empathy?

One of the most unique features of this show is that it takes place through a phone call. In the times when we are constantly hooked to our screens, be it our phone, laptop or television, we are constantly consuming content on screen. So, to hold an audience's attention for more than 35 minutes on an audio basis is a challenge in itself.

LIFELINE 99 99 is an example of how the experimental art practice has evolved among theatre practitioners. Attending a phone call from a stranger and talking about the humanitarian crisis and philosophical questions concerned with the times we are living in, is an experience in itself. How many of us have done that before?

Take a break from your screen fatigue, and dial in for a fresh and unconventional theatre experience. The next show of LIFELINE 99 99 will run (21-22, 28-29) in August. The tickets are available on the PayTM-Insider website for all Indian residents and the play can be attended from any city and venue as long as you have an active cell phone connection.

*Parul Rana is a theatre enthusiast and movie buff.
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