Kathakali – the classical dance drama of Kerala, south India – UK Tour 2017.
Theatr Mwldan, Bath House Road, Cardigan Ceredigion SA43 1JY www.mwldan.co.uk
17th October 2017 7.30pm – touring other theatres in UK until 18th November
Note if you book tickets in advance, there is often an invitation to see how the magical 3-dimensional make-up is applied before the performance. Scenery is minimal, but the characters just take over the stage with their fierce, imposing and elaborate costumes and head-dresses. It is mime story-telling accompanied by four drum & percussion players on stage setting the rhythm and pace. As you would expect, it is a bit difficult to follow the story in detail, but there is a short film shown before they start to explain who the characters are and what the story is about. In this case, the ugly wicked step-mother wants to kill the princess, sends the hunter to bring back her heart but he kills a deer instead, the prince wakens her from her poisoned sleep etc etc – so a traditional storyline.
As an all-male cast, it is interesting to see facial expressions of the quite dainty “princess” who wears a modest costume compared with the other characters. For the other characters, it is exaggerated head and body movements to suggest feelings of love, hate, anguish, and definitely anger. Brilliant suggestion of step-mother opening cosmetic jars and applying lipstick, regularly pushing up her heaving bosom (bit like Les Dawson!), and cooking the heart the hunter brings – even scraping her fingers around the inside of an imaginary bowl to get the last bits to eat!
If you enjoy visual theatre, exotic costumes and traditional Indian music, this is a wonderful opportunity to enjoy the classical sacred drama developed more than 500 years ago.