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Loretta play review by Manju Sampat

LorettaThe Aditya Birla group supported Aadyam initiative, is indeed a shot in the arm for all theatre groups, actors, and theatre lovers. In it’s second year, it continues to support theatre groups in their endeavor to produce lavish and often original plays. “Loretta” is one such play that was especially created for this year’s Aadyam festival.  It was originally written by Pundalik Naik and adapted for this English version by Milind Dhaimade.
Arpana Theatre’s Sunil Shanbag has directed this production that was recently staged at NCPA and St. Andrews in Bandra. There is a show scheduled for May 13th also and it will be performed at the Kamani auditorium in Delhi at the end of May.
For an evening of sheer entertainment and laughter you need to see ” Loretta”! Shanbag has chosen to direct it in the true Goan   “Tiatr” style of theatre. Though this style was thought to be ” basic and amateurish by the Goan elite”, Shanbag has worked wonders with “Loretta” and used this charming format to direct it.

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The play opens with Rafael, played by Saatvic and his girl friend Loretta (Rozzlin Pereira) coming to visit his childhood home on St. Bartholomew, a small island in Goa. The play is set in the seventies, but Rafael’s  father Antonio Moraes (Abhijit Bhor), who still lives on the island,  is stuck in a time warp.  He is obsessively  proud of his Goan culture and language and wants to preserve them at all cost.  Because he fears outsiders will corrupt his peaceful island if it becomes easily accessible, he refuses to have a bridge built to connect it to the mainland.   So he surrounds himself with his old cook cum “boy”, Caitu, brilliantly enacted by Danish Husain, the endearing fishwali, Audu (Shilpa Sane), Pedro the bread man and Miguel the toddywala. Moraes wants everyone to be proud of  being Goan and  speak in Konkani. So when Loretta wants to stay on on the scenic island, he insists she learn Konkani.
There is a lot going on in the play…..music, dance, humor, there is all this and more. Asif Ali Beg as the local minister Shirodker, who wants the bridge built and Danish Hussain as his secretary, are both perfect  for their roles. In fact a very big plus point for this production is that each actor looks and plays his part to great perfection and delivers a spirited performance.

A couple of other factors also really work for this production. One is the inclusion of a live band and the other is the use of “sutradhar” based characters to provide a clever commentary on our socio-politic and cultural set up. This is done in a very  satirical way through various skits accompanied by song and dance. There are many tongue in cheek lines in the main play also.  For eg, there is a scene in which the protagonist, Loretta, is to be examined for her Konkani speaking skills by a group of “learned” men. However the three that do turn up to examine her are just the bread man, the fishwali and the toddywala in disguise. “learned people don’t like to be told anything and don’t talk much” we are told! Then again, when the so called censor board guy (Sunil Shanbag himself!)  comes,  he admits that he cannot speak English and only knows a few words, so if there is any reference to these words ..kissing, sexy moves etc, then the show is to be banned! A clear reference to the ruling on our dance bars.

Loretta3Asif Ali Beg and Danish Husain provide great entertainment with their singing, dancing and humorous commentary as the ‘sutradhars’. They ensure that in the true spirit of Tiatre, “Loretta” is a veritable carnival!  The sets  are authentic and beautifully designed and Hidayat Sami on lights does an excellent job. Ronnie Monorante and Asif Ali Beg’s musical arrangements provide some wonderful original melodies and greatly enhance the play. This Aadyam production included a live band in the foyer as well  and also nariyal pani and choriso pao(Goan version of kheema pao) for all!  Total VFM!

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