I’d never been to a Ruwanthi de Chickera production until yesterday, when I decided to check out Kalumaali, which is on the boards now at the Lionel Wendt (check out the event page for details).
Kalumaali is what it says on the flyer- a fairy tale for grown ups. More specifically, it’s a tribute to women (especially mothers) and a call for individuality.
The play follows a family-a working father, a stay at home mother, a couple of grandmothers and a little girl named Saki who loves fairy tales. Her favourite is the tale of Kalumaali- a village girl who receives divine gifts from a couple of angels. But this play is more about the storytellers than it is about the fairy tale, because each of the characters tells Saki the tale a little differently in a way that reveals their own character.
What I loved about the play was that it was -well- so obviously Sri Lankan- unlike a lot of English productions here. There were references to tales we all know and love, like ‘Thoppi velendha’ for instance.
I found the use of the stage hands quite interesting too. There was no curtains down, lights out between scenes so that they could run on and set the scene. Instead the stage hands were part of the play, becoming onlookers of the drama that was unfolding.
There was also this brilliant shadow sequence near the end which to me was the climax of the play.
Some people complained that it was too long and at times disjointed. Well yes, it’s about two and a half hours, but I can’t say I felt my attention flagging. It’s also a shame that Iranganie Serasinghe couldn’t perform as she had been rehearsing for the role (she was sick). Overall, though, I thought it was well done- thought provoking and humourous without going the slapstick route.
Do check it out. It’s on today until the 16th, 7.15 pm. Also, the play is being performed bilingually- I think today’s production is in Sinhala. From what I gathered off their Facebook page, the next English one is on Sunday, though, er, don’t quote me on that [Editor’s note: ’tis true]. You can get tickets at the Wendt between 10 am and 12 pm and again from 2 to 5 (more details).