Review of Treadmill in Hindu

Original Article

Treadmill left one breathless, desiring more than ever to reminisce over the days gone by

Sandeep Shikhar’s “Treadmill” is a play that hits hard. It is your story. It is true that the audience laughed and clapped at the tongue-in-cheek humour, but once the laughter faded, contemplation set in.

Sandeep uses running — as the title of the play suggests — as a metaphor to portray the rush of city life. Running has become a way of life for us city dwellers. We run to achieve goals, yet fulfilment eludes us. In our pursuit for material wealth, we miss out on forming close relationships. Life, before we know it, flashes by without us really living it.

“Treadmill” traces the story of a married couple who thrive on the snatches of romantic exchanges between them while rushing to meet the needs of city life. Life, initially without care and lots of leisure, transforms into being a tiring regimen of deadlines to be met and chores to be completed.

There is always this underlying fear that the fast moving city will outrace individual lives. Ashwin Chakhre played the role of the man with pathos and honesty. Virginia Rodrigues fit into her role naturally, without overshadowing the other actors.

Class act

Sandeep Shikhar moves in and out of several characters — from the smart maid to the philosophical tailor — with ease, though this did not come as a surprise considering his many years of experience in theatre. The characters he played at times represented the other, at other times the shadow of the man and at others, the opinions of society.

The beauty of the play lay in the multi-dimensional interpretations one could derive from it.

Abhishek Majumdar’s direction was innovative. The transition from one scene to the next was jerky, though it also showed that events in real life occur faster than we can take stock of them. The sets were symbolic; the benefit of minimal sets and lights is that the audience can concentrate fully on the dialogue and the performances.

“Treadmill” made me realise that dialogue does not only take place among actors, but also occurs between the performers and the audience.

An unspoken acknowledgement between the performers and the audience determines the success of a production — the laughs an act earns or the palpable half-held breath of awe. The characteristic, however, that separates a great production from a good one is the inner dialogue it initiates within the viewer. “Treadmill” achieves this. It makes one reflect on his or her lives.

“Treadmill” has been selected, among four other plays, for the first Contemporary Theatre Festival in Paris in 2013. It will be performed on June 6 and 7 at 7.30 p.m. at the Ranga Shankara. Tickets are priced at Rs. 150 and are available at www.bookmyshow.com.

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