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Stage: ‘Mira,’ La Mama's Indian Play

Submitted by shashi on Wed, 07/31/2019 - 07:27
Jul 31st 2019

You never know what is going to turn up at La Mama, but at the very least it will be interesting, and at the most it will be truly exciting. It is fascinating that right now in London a La Mama troupe is getting extremely respectful reviews in the West End. What hope would it have on Broadway? Well, perhaps they will have to wait.

The other week at La Mama I saw an Indian play, "Mira," by a young Indian writer, Gurcharan Das. It was described as a Krishna rite, and it was remarkable in the way it combined Indian legend with the sophistica tion of Western total theater.

The staging by Martin Brenzell, head of La Mama Canada, the La Mama off shoot resident at McMaster University in Hamilton, On tario, concentrates on the Indian ritual, a slow, unfolding pattern of dance and drama. The original music—again neither Indian nor Western, yet evocative of both civiliza tions—is by David Walker.

The story has been based upon Mira, a young princess living in North India during the 16th‐century. Unhappily married to the Rana of Me war, the leading Indian state, she turns for the cares of the world to the comfort of the gods.

Gurcharan Das's play has something of the quality of a dream ritual. The language has a plaintive poetry to it, and what the play lacks in imme diacy it makes up in pathos. Mira, you feel, is a modern women being broken on the wheels of convention. The timelessness of the story is emphasized by the very strangeness of the social and dramatic settings surrounding it.

Mr. Brenzell has staged the work with, I thought a natural feel for Indian art, and the particular pace, so hard to match, of Indian dance drama.

The acting also had just the right quality of hieratic grace. Yolande Bavan was beautiful as Mira, the young princess caught in the nets of palace conventions, love and religion. Erik Robinson was admirable as the un bending Prince.

"Mira" is one of those plays that has the savor of an experience about it. It had all the grace of a lovely alien voice speaking of eternals in a language just delicately opaque. The passion was dis creetly in the next room— or the next continent.