Written, Directed and Produced by Zorian Cross
Cast: Belle De Nuit by Nisa Shetty
Dancers: Eesha Singh and Himanshi Karol
Pianist: Henry Joseph, Images by Shashank Sk Tyagi
When it comes to theatre, a musical is always one of my top favourites. Having been in a few, myself and with interest in dance and music, the attraction to live music performances and stories told through song is always a journey that is somewhat home. In Delhi often, musical theatre is not a genre that is seen much as it requires a special kind of casting and direction that is normally not the forte of many.
Welcoming into this, the performance of Swan Song which is the brainchild of Zorian Cross from concept/ scripting to direction is indeed a special breath of fresh air. Aside from being a musical, it is actually the first Cabaret performance to be held within the country. As I learn, Cabaret is usually mistaken for Burlesque. The latter is a form of dance, while the former is actually a style of storytelling which delicately balances between interactive audience dialogues therein involving them; as well as, musical numbers that bridge the story together meticulously. This was a great insight to be sure.
Most significantly, there is a single actress take on the role of the chanteuse. She sings live and except having two dancers, who support her occasionally and the pianist who provides the music. The spot light travels with her as she goes though her journey of learning’s, her eclectic profession, to her loves and with how her career wavers though its many turns. Single performer acts are in my mind amongst the most tough to pull off. The narrative and performance over 90 minutes has to be so engaging that one never wavers. This I can tell you was well achieved.
The story brings poignantly forward the life of a showgirl and how the many assumptions of the outside society only shut out the challenges that they have but takes due advantages to fulfill their own fantasies . The misogyny of society, chauvinism of men, paradoxes of womanhood are the many shades the audience travels though. The eternal need that we all have for love, the ownership of lust and our sacrifices we make thinking that it will eventually work is seen in its many highs and lows. The life of the “entertainer vs the entertained” is seen through the choice of music and the superb acting of the protagonist which is quite spellbinding. One later thinks only to say, is this, who we are and how assumptions define our actions quite tragically.
The list of songs is stellar from a series of Broadway and pop greats. Nisa powerfully performs from “ Life is a Cabaret, Maybe this time, Cant help lovin that man, Hanky Panky, I enjoy being a girl” and many others to showcase every stage of her journey. As she belts out each note, she also rises and dissolves into the emotion of each moment of the story and the audience only blends into it more. The many months of work that director and cast has taken shows through the passion that is exuded on stage and one cannot but sit mesmerized in what is a production that could be already in Broadway. The dancers who added to the performance interestingly used both styles from cabaret and combined contemporary moves into it. Unlike large cabaret productions from Vegas stages of multiple performers I give the ladies credit how with just two they engaged the audience through some of the additional songs.
As the play progressed I could see the audience finding connections which changed from an entertained viewer who laughed, was teased and cajoled to someone who wanted to fight by Belle’s side, champion her cause and protect her from all the objectivity that began to rule her life. Each song is beautifully timed to expose on raw nerve the stage that Bella is at that point. I cannot state the story but I write this piece to just share my pride in the work done by the group in creating what I feel truly a milestone in theatre works in this genre within the country.
As I left emotionally from my seat, I decided that I would post about this journey. I advise you all to be a part of this tribute and let yourselves be “carried away”.
The play sees its final weekend this coming dates as follows:
16th July – 08:00 pm | 17th – 08:00 pm | 18th – 05:00 pm and 08:00 pm
Play Duration: 90 minutes
Venue: Akshara Theatre, at 11-B. Baba Kharak Singh Marg, Next to RML Hospital Exit no. 5, New Delhi, Delhi 110001. Nearest Metro Station: Rajiv Chowk, Tickets available on BookMyShow.com
You can also see more clips and follow the cast on their Instagram handles as follows
Zorian @zizibello, Nisa @nisa_shetty, Eesha Singh @eesha7 and Himanshi Karol@himasnshikarol
Also see more work of the photographer Shashank Tyagi @sktphotos and www. sktphotos.com