24-30 June 2016 #814

Sidhi (Stairs)

Translated into Nepali with input from the artists the story is predictable and lacklustre.
Someplace Else by Sahina Shrestha

Gopen Rai

Money, money, money

Must be funny

In the rich man's world

Money, money, money

Always sunny

In the rich man's world

Aha-ahaaa

All the things I could do

If I had a little money

It's a rich man's world

So goes an ABBA song. And we are all familiar with the cliché: Money makes the world go round.

It would appear that in today’s age of consumerism, anyone who claims not to care about money must either be rich, a monk, or a liar.

Yes, having money is important, but is it more vital than family? What is one willing to do to attain ever-elusive wealth? These are the questions that Sidhi (Stairs), currently running at Sarwanam Theatre, seeks answers to.

Written and directed by acclaimed Indian theatre director Subodh Patnaik, Sidhi — the outcome of a workshop with Patnaik — revolves around the lives of city folk, a low-income female-headed family, and young people crushed between politics of the country and their desire for a better life.

Aama (Meena Khadka) sells corn cobs on the street to make ends meet for her family of three. Her son (Arjun Neupane) and daughter (Sabina Gopali) are typical teenagers, unwilling to help their mother and ashamed of what she does to make a living. While Aama toils daily, the son chants slogans at protests, and the daughter whiles her time away with her boyfriend.

To pay a manpower agency, the son resorts to theft, stealing money his father left behind. The daughter — his partner in crime — splurges her share on a new bag. When Aama finds out, she leaves home, utterly disappointed in her children.

The story, written in Hindi by Patnaik and translated into Nepali with input from the artists, is predictable and lacklustre. One cannot help but wonder if something was lost in translation.

Khadka does well in her role as the mother: she is loving and caring, but not hesitant to display her anger and disappointment. Gopali manages to pull off her character as a daughter, sister and a girlfriend. Neupane’s best moment comes when he is out on the streets, protesting. But the actors need to hone their skills to make their acts believable and to hold the attention of the audience. Their expressions were at times exaggerated, yet occasionally bland.

The background music did not add much to the play, and intermittently came across as jarring. All eight scenes unfolded on a single stage illuminated by a solitary light, and a spark of drama and fun came from the use of props. A set of bamboo stairs was creatively employed, alternating as a house, vehicle, horse, and garden, accompanied by wooden cell phones and popsicles, and corn cobs fashioned from paper.

Directed and written by: Subodh Patnaik

Cast: Meena Khadka, Sadhna Bhandari, Sabina Gopali, Arjun Neupane, Bimba Adhikari, Sneha Nyhachyu, Aatma M M, Shishir Siwakoti, Madhav Banjare, Aditya Sharma, Prawin Adhikari, Sushil Gaire, John Yonjan, Dipendra Kadaria and Bibek Acharya

Duration: 1 hour

Rs 200, Rs 100 (students), 19 June to 2 July, 5.30 pm (except Thursdays), Sarwanam Theatre, Kalikasthan, (01) 4011027

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