When the everyman plays pretend

A German play translated into English, that makes its Indian debut tomorrow, provides a humorous insight into the human condition using the theme of make-belief

Forty-eight scenes, 17 characters and just five actors, who move with ease from one role to another transcending the barriers of gender, age and ethnicity.

A scene from The Golden Dragon

Set in the kitchen of a Chinese / Thai / Vietnamese restaurant, The Golden Dragon is a play that intertwines the world of imagination with that of the world of reality.

The Golden Dragon has been brought to the country, courtesy an initiative by The British Council. Tomorrow marks the Indian debut of the play, which received rave reviews at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival last year and has travelled to several countries since.

Initially written in German by Roland Schimmelpfennig, the play has been translated into English by David Tushingham. It was produced under the name of The Golden Dragon by the Actors Touring Company and premiered in the UK in May 2011.

In the neighbourhood
Directed by Ramin Gray, the play is about the people who work inside The Golden Dragon, a restaurant and take-away service ubiquitous to every city in the world.

Using humour, the play portrays the interconnectedness between characters from different ethnicities, highlighting their daily struggles, ranging from boyfriend issues to toothaches.

"Actors keep shifting from one character to another. Let's pretend that's what the play says," shares director Ramin Gray, adding, "The play looks at how we deal with a situation when confronted with something that is entirely different from what we are. It lets the audience use their imagination as they follow the sequence of events."

Ramin admits that it wasn't easy for the actors to get under the skin of the characters. "When the actor starts to get comfortable with a certain character, he has to leave it and take on another, before he realises he has to come back to the first," he says.

Are the transitions easy for the audience to follow? "The challenge for me was how to give the audience what they need to put it all together," he replies.

About the play, which provides an insight into the human condition through the exploration of different worlds, Ramin says, "When a white woman plays the role of an illegal Chinese immigrant, she begins to understand his world."

It is ultimately empathy that makes us more human, says the director. "It helps people understand what it would be like to be in another person's shoes."

ON Tomorrow, 5 pm and 8 pm
At NCPA, Nariman Point.
Call 22824567 / 66223724
Tickets Rs 300, Rs 250, Rs 200

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