“All you need is love” was the play presented by “Yours Truly theatre” on Sunday Feb 22nd at Nayana auditorium. There were two shows of the same – yet since this is an interactive theatre in playback format, each show is unique. In playback format, to put briefly, the input from audience is enacted on the stage. I was quite curious to see this happening and my reaction is mixed.

There were multiple parts to the show – the first one being, what they called, “fluids”. Answers to questions like “what does love mean to you”, “what would happen if there was only love”, were collected from audience and the actors on stage enacted a depiction of it. This happened for few rounds. What was interesting in this was in the way the actors enacted the meanings – it could be straight forward interpretation, or by adding a touch of humour, or by a means of sarcasm. It made me realize there were many ways of looking at same thing and I feel if ..if I can creatively imagine on the similar lines, my gazing-out-of-window-during-busy-traffic-hours could get just a little more engaging and colorful.

There was a round of fluid for the audience reactions to the show…which was a nice touch.

Overall some of the interpretations were not convincing to me..or may be it is just me, I can’t take all ! But some others were apt. And there were many hilarious moments – especially when we are aware that it is impromptu show – the timing and situational comedy was good. As an audience later said, the process and in turn the actors seem to be very intelligent.

The second part was about depiction of a conflict. A deep conflict, for eg, in the second show an audience mentioned “Is love enough for marriage, should one marry at all, or isn’t there a life beyond that” as a conflict. It was a conflict to me few months ago and I found an answer – two infact , one the ideal and second the practical – and it ceased to be a conflict to me. However,in the show, it was a much welcome conflict to ponder upon rather than other futile conflicts that could have come up. Conflicts too, were enacted by three pairs in their own way and the audience-whose conflict was selected- was given a chance to choose which of the three pairs came close to what he/she had in mind. It must have been an unique and strange satisfaction to see the demons/thought of the mind take the form of words and interpretations and en-act on the stage.

The third part was, the actual story being enacted on stage. For this, one of the audience was asked to narrate their story and the actors will act the story in a dramatic way on the stage. The story in the first show was about a job-seeker being helped with a bus ticket by a stranger was not strong on the plot – as per me(because personally, have been through very strong emotions and turmoil…) The emotions or the story wasn’t as profound as the second show’s story. However, the actors did a nice job of highlighting the north-south divide which was just an after thought in the story but it took good shape in the play.

(However as an aside, those who complain about the north-south divide troubling them in Bangalore – in my Bengaluru which embraces everyone without complaining – should really go to Chennai(I did live there, to support my claim) – as the character does go, in this story. Ironically, that character must have realized what a comfortable place Bangalore is, compared to Chennai; I wished this could come out in the play – but it was out of context I guess.)

Comparatively the second story,that of a grandson who hated his grandfather for his discipline while he was alive; but after reading his diary realizes how much care and love his grandfather really had towards him; the soft heart he had beneath the hard outlook. This plot was profound and had a depth of substance; and the actors did superb justice to it.

As is evident, the half the strength of part of the show – for a viewer – lies in the story. If the story is quite substantial – as it was in the second show than the first – the play results in an experience to remember. More the depth-> little more the duration of the play->better the engagement with the audience and a better experience/memory. The co-ordination, flow (the speed), energy and performance as a whole – with acting and music – was quite an entertaining and engaging experience. The only grouse is, this format requires a good story from the audience.

That said, the joy to see one’s story on stage, in full colour and music, must be overwhelming ! Especially to a person like me – I see my story or can relate to an incident or a personality in most of the movies;either to me or to a person I know. Again I was silent for most part of the audience interaction – except for one or two sound bites – otherwise just trying to capture and dissect; to assimilate and analyse the audience’ thoughts and beliefs. But one day, some day.. I will have a story – a grand one.

Uff, the perils of an interactive theatre. And aah, the joys of the same.

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