54-year-old play about newlyweds staged in Mumbai is #SoRelatable
In the first scene itself, newlyweds Corie and Palash come across as polar opposites. They’ve just moved into a cramped apartment in 1980s New York. Time Of My Life from Dirty Dancing plays in the background. Corie is impulsive and starry-eyed; Palash, cautious and straitlaced.
How they negotiate the ups and downs of married life forms the premise of the romantic comedy, Barefoot In The Park. Written by Neil Simon in 1963, this version is directed by first-timer Swagata Naik.
The title refers to Corie’s lament that Palash would never run barefoot in a park. “The newlyweds finding their way around a cramped apartment is a metaphor for how they discover each other,” says Naik.
“These are universal scenarios and can be set in any period.”
Naik’s direction tweaks the beginning and climax. “The characters are depicted as Indians since American accents would look farcical. However, I’ve retained the dialogues and the play’s essence – exploring the layers of human relationships.”
As the play progresses, Corie’s hypochondriac sister, Simi, and their flamboyant neighbour Vicky Malhotra come to stay in the already full apartment. “Besides the lead pair’s romantic chemistry, the bond between the sisters is also highlighted,” says Naik, who also plays Simi.
Priyanka Lulla, who plays Corie says rehearsals took a month. “I had to strike the right balance between sounding impulsive and hyper,” she says. Her inspirations: Jane Fonda who played the same character in the 1967 version of the film.
Produced by Naik, Mikhael Kantroo and Varun Tewari under their banner Thrice As Nice Entertainment, the 70-minute play also features Ankit Narang, Sankalp Joshi and Shreyas Porus Pardiwalla. Sunita Bijlani, 46, a designer from Bandra, who watched the play’s premiere last week, says, “I enjoyed how the actors, especially Swagata and Priyanka, brought the characters alive on stage.”
Dimple Thadani, 29, PR professional, who watched the premiere with her husband Akshay, says the story is relatable. “There’s one scene where the wife is busy trying to woo the husband but he’s consumed with his work,” she says. “In another scene, the husband questions her choice of furniture. We had a good laugh over it because we’re also in the process of shifting homes.”
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