SOUZOU Play Review

Miti Bhavik Shah

Written and Directed : Barkha Fatnani & Ritul Singh
Cast : Barkha Fatnani, Ritul Singh

 SOUZOU Review

Written, directed and performed by Barkha Fatnani and Ritul Singh 'Imagination is the playground of mind, where dreams take flight', is the very foundation of the Gillo Repertory Theatre's newest play for kids SOUZOU which translates to imagination in Japanese. Produced by Shaili Sathyu and Tanya Mahajan, SOUZOU includes two stories, both written, directed and performed by Barkha Fatnani and Ritul Singh.

The play begins with Barkha Fatnani enacting and narrating the story of The Hermit Crab's Dream which is a retelling of a Japanese folktale. Set in Japan the story revolves around a hermit crab, Akimitsu; each morning the hermit crabs discuss what they dream with each other. One day Akimitsu reveals that he hasn't dreamt in a long time and only sees black and white.

Concerned, Akimitsu visits an elder who tells him that his home is actually a plastic bottle cap. A panicked Akimitsu attempts to detach his home but the elder stops him and shares the story of his ancestor. He explains how even they were unable to dream and discovered the power of imagination which helped them to dream again. Motivated by this Akimitsu gets back into his home and begins to imagine things he loves. Eventually he falls asleep and embarks on a journey of regaining his dreams through imagination.

The second half of the play revolves around the story of a mouse Fredrick, enacted and narrated by Ritul Singh.

While everyone in his community is busy collecting food Fredrick is busy collecting sunrays, stories, colours, etc. from his surroundings. When winter arrives, the first few days pass by with everyone dancing, singing and eating. But as soon as the food collected becomes is depleted, Fredrick's aunt Sedrick asks him to give his share of food, he timidly gets on a rock and tells them the story of the butterflies, the colours and the words which brings tears to everybody's eyes and his aunt calls him an artist. From that day onwards through his imagination he tells stories every day.

The play is short with a lot of interactive elements between the actors and the young audience. The use of instruments like the flute, melodica, ghungroos, steel tongue drum, etc. for the background music further enhances the experience of the play. The set is minimal and the lighting is apt. The live singing during the play really helps convey the message of imagination to the kids.

In the era of cartoons and video games SOUZOU did manage to capture the heart of the kids; it creates the sense of a need to think beyond and imagine out of the box. The performers Barkha Fatnani and Ritul Singh both did a really good job in keeping the kids as well as the parents engaged throughout the play.

Miti Bhavik Shah is currently enrolled in a design program. Her lifelong passion for theatre, which began at the tender age of three, continues to significantly impact her life.

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