This” said my friend as the lights went up for the interval, “is torture“.

It was such a shame. It promised to be a great theatrical event – five years in the making with contributions from an award-winning composer, lyricist and choreographer and including puppetry and video projection. Unfortunately it was a complete mess.

The lyrics were perhaps the worst part of this anti-gestalt entity. Banal nigh unto nausea with the plodding rhymes of greeting card doggerel. These lyrics had been set to (or had composed for them) almost equally tedious music. They were then sung by vocalists of such mediocre-to-non-existent talent that ones ears curled in an effort to block out the noise. Particularly disappointing since I’m a great fan of Nitin Sawhney.

The dancing, apparently a whole “new vocabulary”, failed to communicate anything very much. The battle scene in particular, allegedly the war to end all wars, the ushering in of a new dark age, resembled a small-scale difference between drunken morris dancers holding garden canes.

Both the video projections and the puppetry were badly-executed tokenistic add-ons which merely served to highlight rather than cover the gaping cracks.

The god Krishna was on stage for most of the performance. Sadly for one supposed to be the powerful all-attractive deity, prince, warrior and philosopher, he was a decidedly uncommanding presence being small and dumpy, and sported something which looked disturbingly like a vestigial chest-wig but might have been some form of necklace. We, in our top-price seats, were too far away to tell.

Also hugely disappointing was the compacting of the Bhagavad Gita into a couple of minutes of stilted and bizarre dialogue between Krishna and Arjuna which appeared, in summary, to be “it’s ok to kill people because they have another life anyway”. However the quotation made famous in the west by Robert Oppenheimer, “Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds” was put in the mouth of Draupadi, the heroine from whose point of view the story had been reworked.

It wasn’t entirely dreadful. When anyone sang in a language other than English both the delivery and scoring was noticeably superior. The “pas de deux” between Draupadi and Arjuna was well done, set to a track from one of Nitin Sawhney’s albums. The set, a Frank Gehry-esque metallic-looking sweeping curve of a rampart, was wonderful but ill-used.

However the evening would best be summed up by the lyrics droned repeatedly by Draupadi in a sub-Lloyd-Webber fashion: “when will it end?“.

Answer: not soon enough.

6 Replies to “Mahabharottontomato”

  1. Hear, hear. That’s what a hatchet job should look like.

    In other news, there was an entry a few days ago that I meant to comment on if only to contrast “out of sight, out of mind” with “absence makes the heart go fonder”. There’s nothing like rediscovering the voice of an old friend.

  2. I have a confession to make – the savagery is mostly because I persuaded my two friends to part with large amounts of cash to see this… performance. Not only that, it was the *second* time I’d persuaded them to see a complete dud. The first involved a female Nigerian “singer” support act of unparalleled talentlessness. And I include every tiny town sleazy nightclub chanteuse I’ve ever heard in that assessment.

    I wish my facility with the hatchet equaled that of the scalpel. Sadly not.

  3. “Nigerian ‘singer'”: oi, I resemble that sentiment…yuknow…those scare quotes really hurt my feelings. Haven’t we (er…Nigerian singers) suffered enough?

    You have no need of a scalpel. What you have done here with this hatchet of yours–a delicate incision here, a delicate filet there–will get you tenure on the department of surgery at Johns Hopkins.

    Please watch more bad shows. This was too much fun to read.

    (But I still love Nitin Sawhney).

  4. So you didn’t rate it then?
    Sorry to say your suffering was justified as far as we were concerned by the shouts of laughter this elicited here. And what’s an evening’s torture, you get another life anyway.

  5. Koranteng, thank you.

    Teju, this woman was so waaaaay beyond bad it wasn’t even funny. I reckon this was an Ivana Trump type situation and there was a rich and foolish man backstage. Nothing else could explain it.

    Lucy, hahahahaha. I wonder if that was mentioned in the Bhagavad Gita, death by turkey.

Comments are closed.