This is a response to the play Kalivesham written by Kavalam Narayana Panikkar, directed by Narippatta Raju and performed by Natyasastra kadampazhipuram, Palakkadu.
The text by Kavalam is about a Kadhakali performer who is to perform the evil character of Kali in Nalacharitham Kadhakali performance. The play focuses on the influence of the character on the performer and how the character slowly diffuses into the habits and nature of the actor and merges into his self. This transition causes immense trauma in the family life of the actor, his relationship to his wife and is evilish and painful at the same time.
This story uses Kadhakali as a performance form, where the actor is usually destined or popular in performing a specific character type regularly. It transcends from Kadhakali to the universal and identity problems faced by any performer and the possible temptations that surrounds him- a play based on the transcending to of the actor to the character. The playwright uses Kadhakali as a base tool to take off to the general characteristic and dynamics of actor-character relationship.
The performance should naturally take off from the text, open it and reinterpret to arrive at a form appropriate for the basic communication of the objective of the director and the ensemble. But viewing the play gave a feel that instead of taking further from Kadhakali; the production has taken it back to the score and milieu of Kadhakali itself. Overt use of the form in costume, movement pattern, music and acting pattern takes the performance nearer to Kadhakali than the written play. It seems to be witnessing a postmodern version of Nalacharitham Kadhakali than a new play derived from it.
The performance was well rehearsed and the details are worked to the minute niceties. The care and subtlety taken in the design of the costumes and other aspects are missing in the acting design which is much loud and lacks subtitlity. Overt and loud use of Kadhakali makes the visible outer format hide the inner dimensions of the narrative.
All the actors have done justice to the role assigned to them by the director; they seemed to have got some training in the acting system of Kadhakali. Special mention is to be made about Sudevan who acted as the ‘actor’, and Rajitha who was the best of the lot who charged the role of the wife of the actor with emotion, clarity and with powerful and glaring eyes.