Laughter is the best medicine. This adage seems to have lost its true meaning today, thanks to the humdrum of modern life that barely leaves us with any time to savour the small joys of life. While we do find some respite in sitcoms, what if we could unwind with an array of funny plays, stand-up comic acts and also learn the art of how to elicit some good laughs within just two days. The National Centre for Performing Arts (NCPA)’s second edition of its comedy festival, Cheer! promises to do just that.
Enthused by the response to its first edition last year, this year the NCPA has an interesting line-up including three premiering plays, three stand-up comedy segments and two interactive workshops. Deepa Gahlot, head programming theatre and films, NCPA, says, “This year, Ministry of Shtick Improv, Anuvab Pal and Meherzad Patel will stage acts for the first time at the festival.
There are a handful of people who are doing good comedy and we wanted to feature them in Cheer! Also, we wanted to focus on stories and performances that weren’t slapstick comedy but human stories that elicited laughter. Also, after the workshops, participants get a chance to perform in front of the live audience with stand-up comedians.” Here are the plays that are in store:
Couple of Fools
The story: Playwright-director Meherzad Patel, who is known for his productions that have an inimitable style of humour laced with a message, presents Couple of Fools. Adapted from an American play by the same name, it follows the adventures of a girl who is dating two men simultaneously without one knowing about the other. When both of them confront her, she is nonchalant about it. Directorspeak: This is the first time Patel has adapted a play. He says that the 90-minute piece, which highlights modern day relationships, has been designed as a collection of 10-minute gags. “Each gag is a chapter in the trio’s lives. Rather than having a play in two acts, I have designed it this way as a sitcom since today’s audiences have low attention spans. Couple of fools is definitely not a rom-com but will make people laugh and at the same time wonder at the idiosyncrasies of modern day love.”
The story: Writer-director and actor Divya Palat’s new play 2+2 is a collection of four skits penned by her. While Therapy Anyone follows the conversations between a therapist and her patients, Till Death is a dark humour about death. Surprise is about a series of adventures that happen after a girl’s parents decide to greet with her a surprise but are amazed in return as she has something up her sleeves. Daddy Diaries revolves around a prospective groom who comes to meet his father in law and the war of words that ensues.
Director speak: Palat admits that working on these skits was a challenge, as this is the first time she is directing all original works with a multitude of characters. “My earlier two plays such as Foursome and Lovebites had two characters on stage. But 2+2 has diverse characters. Also, each skit has a different set and a different sensibility of humour. There is something on offer for everyone.”
My Romantic History
The story: Akvarious productions, which have earlier presented award-winning plays, including The Interview, A Guy Thing and Baghdad Wedding, present a romantic comedy My Romantic History. The story follows the trials and tribulations of two colleagues who meet in office and end up having a one-night stand. Adapted from a British play by the same name, it is directed by actor-director Adhaar Khurana.
Directorspeak: Khurana says the major highlights of the play are the main leads interacting with the audience helping them know their respective points of view and two other actors, who essay a multitude of characters. He says, “The original production was performed in a similar way. As a director, my main challenge was to adapt the play to an Indian setting without diluting its essence and ensuring that the two actors could essay these multiple characters with ease. My Romantic History is a quirky comedy.”