I say, Avinash Shankar is a good egg. And you ask, Why?
Well… And I must start at the beginning…
I was 13 when I came down with jaundice and stuck at home with not much to do. To escape the boredom of staring at the ceiling and counting the damp patches on the walls I decided to pick up my very first P G Wodehouse book. I can’t for the life of me remember which one it was because my mother was an avid Plum (as he is fondly known) fan and we had a huge collection. I think I started with a Jeeves book but could have been Psmith as well. After that it was a non-stop reading marathon where I devoured one book after another, and generally laughed my illness away. Of course alongside, I had added some huge words to my vocabulary (some being an understatement here) and when I went back to school I spoke a different language – which definitely P.G. Wodehouse would have been proud of! (My peers didn’t understand me, but that’s another story.)
For me that year was the beginning of becoming a lifelong Wodehousian… or whatever Plum-o-philes were called. And time and again, through my college, post-graduate studies and my working life, I’ve returned to pick up a P. G. Wodehouse novel and sat back as he manoeuvred a clever plot around the colourful adventures of Bertie Wooster getting deeper and deeper into his entanglements till Jeeves stepped in calmly and bailed him out.
In all this my imagination ran rife with Wodehouse’s apt descriptions and I’d sit back and sometimes chuckle or sometimes roar with laughter!
But never once did I think I’d get an opportunity to watch this play out! On stage… and watch it in person.
And that is why ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Avinash Shankar a good egg!
Because that’s what he did. Got a simply marvelous Wodehouse production here to Mumbai.
, at the NCPA on 8th January this year. The last of six precious shows organized in Mumbai.
And it was an exciting, exhilarating experience.
Now you may say to your dear friend next to you, “Old chap, a play is always an extraordinary experience and this person seems to have had a jolly good time” but it was more than that.
First, as an avid reader you’d always imagine a book you’re reading to be converted to a movie. But you’d never imagine that to be a film. P.G. Wodehouse books, for one, do not fall into that category. You can’t possibly imagine a narrative-strong story to be converted into a play. But what I saw was delightfully fresh. And delightfully funny. And delightfully f… (I don’t remember the word but you know what I mean!) I couldn’t have imagined it but that’s what made the production so special.
The clever interplay of characters – three characters who were seven! Or were they eight? The change of sets, the criss-crossing of paths, the mad melee that usually the Wodehouse plots end up in and the final morning when all’s well with the world, all of it was one brilliant delight after another. Many reviews have been out on this and I would like to share them but my point of view is not that of a critic – it is one of a play-goer and an avid reader of P G Wodehouse books. Both these personas were not just satisfied but thrilled with the production-values of the play.
If I could watch it again, I would – two, three, four times! Very much like you’d want to go back to a P. G. Wodehouse book again. And if that is my feeling then I think the play has done the book as much justice as another medium can do!
Which is why at the risk of sounding repetitive, for having brought this experience to India, Avinash Shankar is a good egg!
Thank you Avinash, Smitha and the wonderful people at Blankslate who m
ade this perfect evening happen.