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The Madras Players, in association with Crea-Shakthi, will be staging What Will People Say?, a comedy, over three days. This is the third such collaboration between the two theatre groups after adaptations of And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie last year and Mangalam by Poile Sengupta in 2013.

Written and directed by Vaishwath Shankar, 23, the play, an adaptation of Out Of The Frying Pan by Francis Swann, is about mistaken identity. It tells the story of six struggling actors who live in a studio apartment in Mumbai. They are convinced that Kamal Bose, an influential film producer, lives in the apartment right below theirs. Little do they know that their neighbour is, in fact, a chef. Hilarity ensues when he goes up to the actors’ apartment to borrow some oil and finds himself caught up in a staged and steadily improvised murder scenario instead.

“I began writing it in October last year. The structure of the play is similar to the American version, which is set in the 1940s. As with any play, it has evolved organically to accommodate the characteristics and personalities of the cast that we are working with," says Shankar, an artistic director and trainer at Crea-Shakthi.

Theatre actor T.M. Karthik (popularly known as TMK), who plays the role of Bose, says any young artiste who’s struggling to make an impression will relate to the play. “My part comes in much later, as the play focuses on these six friends in the beginning. I very rarely laugh while watching a play. With this script, however, as I’m waiting backstage for my part to come on, I laugh a lot at the events in the play. It’s great fun," he says.

Karthik terms it an ensemble play, where no one has a standout role. Radhakrishnan Iyer, who plays the rich politician father of one of the girls in the flat, and Janaki Sabesh, who plays the sceptical house owner, are the other members of the cast. “These characters add a totally different flavour to the play by bringing in their own life experience. Otherwise, it may have looked like the Indian version of the TV show F.R.I.E.N.D.S," Karthik adds.

While none of the cast members is part of the core committee of The Madras Players, the older actors in the play have often worked with the group in the past. The Madras Players, which has been trying to involve younger actors in its work, stages four plays, each of a different genre, in a year.

Their next production, Gas Light, based on the play by Patrick Hamilton and directed by Michael Muthu, will have a darker theme. To be staged in June, it explores a situation of psychological abuse in late 19th century London.

What Will People Say? will be staged from 6-8 March, 7.15pm, at The Museum Theatre, Pantheon Road, Egmore. Donor passes, 200, 300 and 500, available on in.bookmyshow.com and www.indianstage.in. For details, call 9381911977.

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