On the 18th of February, I had the pleasure of being witness to a true mystery thriller. What better medium than theatre, to unfold, in all its glory, an Agatha Christie suspense! Stagecraft Theatre’s Gumnaam Hai Koi, an adaptation, in Hindi, of ‘And Then There Were None’ had all my senses anchored to the taut intensity on the stage.
Before Gumnaam Hai Koi started, there was a short play by Stagecraft Adda, called ‘Disconnected’. I will say little about this, because I found it too beautiful for words. Beautiful in its quiet, painfull truthfulness. That feeling, when you love something so much that you can’t let go, you simply can’t, you’d rather die than let go…I have never seen it displayed on stage in such clarity. It left me sitting silently, staring ahead, shell-shocked by the blatant honesty of the play. Hats off to Bertha Cusso, for creating a script such as this.
Then, in that tense mood, started the play, Gumnaam Hai koi…
A seaside house on a cliff, the sound of waves lashing against the cliff walls…a house party…a motley, mysterious group of people, each with his own story and complex psychological layers…Oh, Agatha Christie allright!
As a reader, I have always steered clear of literature that comes under the genre of macabre. And yet, Agatha Christie, I am very fond of. I think that’s because, in her work, the primary is the lively psychological play. Her characters are fresh, and very interesting. And how the actors have brought the characters to life! Way over and above anything I could have imagined. There was that gripping tense, scariness, which is fun, in typical Agatha Christie style, and that’s possible to actualise on stage only via phenomenal performances such as I saw on the 18th.
The set had all those doors here and windows there, perfect for the murder story to slowly unfold. The eclectic, island house, coupled with the lighting and sound…I actually got the feeling that it’s a windswept, stormy, seashore landscape outside, while its warm, and very tense, agitated indoors. The sound of seagulls indicating a new morning, a spell of rain to diffuse the tension for a while…how brilliant is that!
There were scenes in candlelight, with only a part of the stage lit and the other in complete darkness. And as the actor, holding a candle, moves towards the other side, a murder is suddenly revealed!!
And the climax? Oh goodness. Scary. Scary as a true Agatha Christie villain. Music and lights are anxious, restless, as a master actor takes us through the twisted working of the murderer’s mind. The mystery unravels and the pieces of the puzzle come together.
The tension goes on building, to a full blown, brilliant psychological drama, and a then a sharp crack of a gun shot, and lights out! And there you are, still gripping you seat, the intensity and unexpectedness of the ending still washing over you. The amazement at such intricate mental complexity still washing over you.