Tuesday, June 14, 2016

La Douler- a Play

I was scarcely prepared for the spectacle that was on offer at Alliance Francais Madras on the evening of 14 June. I was witness to some amazing content, form and performance of a very high quality that was on show in the play La Douler, an adaptation from two short stories of Margurite Duras from her collection titled The War- memoir, performed to perfection by Maud Andrieux.

Over a span of around an hour the stage of minimalist set consisting of a wicker chair, table with a lamp and telephone on it, would transform itself variously as a seat by the fire place in the confines of a lonely home, the corridors of a public office, the visitors area of a prison, a street side restaurant, a field with wasted bodies dumped on it, the High way from Dachau to Paris and finally a pleasant summer Italian Beach.

All this magic of seamless transformation on the stage was achieved by a magical combination of Expressions and performance of Maud Andrieux, the poignant words of Duras and the Lighting and Sound effects.

For someone from a land of relative peace and having never known what it means to be in the middle or anywhere near a war, the poignancy of the lines of the play were immensely touching. AFM had put technology to good use by arranging to project the translations of the french lines in back ground as they were spoken by the actor. 

Moments and lines like,' peace was approaching, and all this pain would be soon forgotten', signifying the bitter harshness in how with the onset of peace all that heart wrenching pain would be swallowed down as one but a bitter pill; ' He was one of the great many, but the only one special to me' impling how her most loved one was but one of the casualties in the big picture. ' I don't blame any race or creed, but Man', indicating how all that suffering does not lead to hatred but some sort of deeper realisation. I wish i could remember many more of those beautiful and poignant lines. 

Maud Andrieux' devotion to the text and the substance was evident. She had brought home to aliens like us the chaos and commotions of a war period and the pain and heavy grief it brings with it. The stories of victory of a persevering spirit, though may sound fable like in other times, on this stage it was the pain of the persevering spirit that was written all over. 

Over the course of the play, Maud Andrieux brings to life a grieving, concerned and steely partner, a strong woman braving the schemes of the enemy, the praying woman who prays for her love to stumble back to life from the clutches of drowning into death from being wasted, and finally a partner rejoicing in the new found life, which is like no other. 

The grace and confidence with which Maud Andrieux carried the whole show was exceptional. use of properties was minimal, so minimal that a carefully folded and laid long coat could transform into a form lying wasted and struggling to recover. Simply by wearing a long coat and wrapping a cloth around she could transform the stage into an outdoor, and by taking off her short coat she could bring before us a lady basking in the summer beaches. i don't want to move on from this section without mentioning the beautiful hair do she was wearing.


Maud Andrieux deserved a big standing applause for her devotion and sincerity to the text and for bringing the pain and grief of the war and also the final ray of hope to the stage.

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