Post tsunami Srilanka. A twenty something Shekar has arrived from New Zealand and is searching for answers. Who is the beautiful woman in the picture his dying father left behind? Why does Bala dig relentlessly in the wreckage left by that huge wave? What does that spiteful old woman want from Uncle Somu? And who hides behind that blue door? The one the giant lizard guards…
‘The Mourning After’ by Ahi Karunaharan explores and defines love and relationships amongst the remains of the tsunami. It attempts to rebuild life surrounded by devastation. It salutes the courage of those who have loved and lost. And want to love again…
The script was a beautiful little story, with a touch of mythic alongside heart warming realities, set in the dusty world of Uncle Somo and his house – the only one standing post Tsunami. Centre stage is a blue house which folds out creating a door and a window and revealing a glorious gold render, casting a warm glow of the stage but also in certain lights rattled a silver moonlight. Three railways sleepers contain the space scattered in sand and various silver metal containers filled with water – the remnants of the disaster from long ago. Actors were able to walk behind the audience (in the thrust seating configuration) disappearing into the shadows and appearing from the nooks and crannies of the stage design. Costume was heightened with colours of saffron, dusty purple, rusty maroon and royal blue contrasted by the modern visitor from New Zealand – Shekar – and the earthy greens of the Kabarakoya who stalked the space.
Director Padma Akula must be congratulated for drawing such performances from the cast, and for her vision throughout; and Playwright Ahi Karunaharan could only be thoroughly satisfied by this interpretation of his script. Mention should also be made of the work of set and costume designer Christine Urquhart, Kabaragoya choreographer Kaviesha Abeysinghe, musician Karnan Saba, and designers Brendan Albrey and Bhavnesh Soni. Together the company has produced a package that only the picky would find fault with.
– Bronwyn Elsmore, Theatreview
Lighting by Brendan Albrey and set design Christine Urquhart come together to create a space allowing for a huge range of theatricality. A minimal set of little more than dirt strewn across the stage evokes a run-down home. Nooks and crannies off the main stage are used to great effect too. The Basement theatre has rarely felt so big, encompassing the entirety of a Sri Lankan village.
direction Padma Akula
light Brendan Albrey
company Prayas Theatre Company | Agaram Productions
venue The Basement Theatre