Since its inception, One World Theatre has made it a point to showcase plays on social justice issues. Their latest production, Master Harold and the boys is set in apartheid South Africa and explores the fragile bond between a young white boy, Master Harold (or Hally) and his middle-aged black servants Sam and Willie.
Director Deborah Merola's adaptation of Athol Fugard's drama opens in an English style tea-room in the 1950s. We are introduced to Sam and Willie, played by Rajkumar Pudasaini and Ashant Sharma respectively who are cleaning the room, while engaging in childish banter about ballroom championships and the possibility of Willie's girlfriend having two left feet when an angst-ridden Hally portrayed by Alan Gurung makes his entry. In a world where inter-racial relationship is forbidden, the three characters struggle to maintain their camaraderie while upholding social norms. Hally in particular is troubled by the injustices perpetrated by his people against Sam and Willie.
Rajkumar Pudasaini gives an excellent performance, switching effortlessly from the role of a humble servant to a strong, dignified black man. Ashant Sharma's goofy stunts provide comic relief in an otherwise intense play. Debutant Gurung captures the cynical Hally beautifully and is a promising actor. Watch out for the gags between Sam and Willie.
Even though the play is based 50 years ago, Nepali audience can easily relate to the characters' plight. Like Nepal, South Africa also faced numerous problems during its peace process and writing a fair post-apartheid constitution was a huge battle. Sam and Hally's conversation about social reformers closely parallels our own conversations about the need for a saviour. And Fugard's analogy of the world as ballroom dancing where one never collides with another is an apt description of Nepali society.
Directed by Deborah Merola
Produced by Mita Hosali
Opening 31 May till 3 June, 5.30 pm
Rs 500 or Rs 200 (for students)
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