These days the National Academy of Performing Arts (Napa) is holding its annual Young Directors Festival. It began from March 18 and will conclude on March 29 after presenting six plays, each having a two-day run.
The second play of the event put up on Monday evening was Andhera Honay Tak, an Urdu adaptation of English playwright Fredrick Knott’s Wait Until Dark. Anyone who’s not into theatre and loves films may have watched Dial M for Murder adapted from his play.
Andhera Honay Tak, translated by Babar Jamal and directed by Gazzain Abbas, tells the story of a visually impaired woman Sofi (Bazelah Mustafa) whose husband has incidentally brought a robot related to a woman who has been murdered and in which a conman, Tipu (Zuhair Zubair), has a keen interest because of what the robot contains. (The word ‘robot’ is uttered with a variety of pronunciations during the course of the crime drama.) To retrieve it, he gathers two more sinister men Dilair (Hafeez Lehri) and Aziz (Amjad Junejo). When the curtains go up, Dilair and Aziz run into each other in Sofi’s place, who is living alone because her husband is away for work.
Now as can be guessed, since the principal character of Sofi is blind, the plot has quite a few twists. The conmen after realising that she can’t see, try and dupe her into telling them where the robot is, but the woman is not as naïve as they think she is. She can sense that something is off with the men who meet her in different roles. The unseen tussle leads to a climax involving the use of light, both in metaphorical and literal senses.
It seemed on Monday that in order to focus more on the climactic sequence because it had action, the young director, Abbas, overlooked at least a couple of extremely important aspects. It is always challenging for an ‘able’ actor to play a disabled person. For example, the one who can see will never fully know how it feels to be blind. Therefore to get even a small fraction of that knowledge, extensive research is required — how a blind person descends the stairs, steps into a room after opening a door, moves the arms when pointing at a spot without facing it, etc. There are movies and dramas in which formidable actors have essayed such roles to a great degree of success.
Fumbling the lines on stage is not a sin. But letting the audience know that you’ve forgotten your line means more hard diligence is required.