“Each of these three stories are divergent. They straddle a grey space that I like very much,” says novelist Anita Nair, who has rewritten three of her short stories for the stage. The play, A Twist of Lime, will premiere in Bangalore on 9 March.
The 70-minute production threads together three stories—Sushil and the Maybe Virgin, Half a Sin and Tresspass—that are being told at a bar (which lends the play its title). The narratives have been adapted from published works by Nair for Bangalore’s Jagriti Theatre.
Last year, Nair wrote the play Nine Faces of Being, which was an adaptation of her novel Mistress. “When (the Jagriti Theatre administration) started talking about the new season, I thought I might like to do another play, something lighter,” says Nair.
Directed by Vivek Madan, the three stories are staged in short-play format, woven together by a storyteller.
Nair has been closely involved with the production. “For the first time ever, I had the playwright sitting through the production,” says Madan.
“I like working with actors and directors,” says Nair, adding that often what looks wonderful on paper sounds insipid when spoken. “So I wrote the script, gave the actors the lines and then tweaked it to make it stage-appropriate,” says Nair.
Sushil and the Maybe Virgin is the story of Sushil, who is sent to meet a family friend’s daughter, Malini, in the hope of an “alliance” that could prove fruitful for the family business. Malini is Indian but has been living in the US for 14 years, and she has her own set of ulterior motives.
In the next story, Half a Sin, two sisters tell their story at the confessional of a church in Kerala. At no point during the narration does the audience know which sister is telling the true story. And in the third, Tresspass, Xavier is a successful hairstylist who runs a beauty salon called Tresspass and is confronted by two clients who walk in at the same time, demanding to be groomed because their “respective” partners are expected back home earlier than planned.
A scene from A Twist of Lime
“What strings these stories together is the fact that the audience will find themselves confused about which of the characters to believe. The audience will have the freedom to leave with any point of view,” says Nair. And in the midst of this, there’s a bartender, who’s listening and being dragged into these stories.
The process of adapting from prose was not a tough one for Nair. “All the plays I have written have been adaptations of my own work. In a way, the basic structure is already available. I might throw in a few extra characters,” says Nair, adding that she had already gone through the angst while writing the story in prose form.
Keeping in mind three plots set in entirely different geographical locations, Madan’s production team had to keep the stage simple yet expressive. “Fortunately, we’ve had the time to experiment and get used to this stage before the start of the season since we’ll be playing every day this month!” says Jimmy Xavier who is part of the cast.
A Twist of Lime is on till 25 March at the Jagriti Theatre, Jagriti Theatre, Ramagondanahalli, Varthur Road, Whitefield (28475373). Tickets, Rs300, available at www.bookmyshow.com