How to Skin a Giraffe- Simple and Effective

Spread out over three consecutively wonderful evenings of the first weekend celebrated by August ’13 beginning on the 3rd, the fest offered an interesting mix of plays for all audiences. It had partnered with impressive sponsors like the title sponsor Bose, the hospitality partner Beaumonde The Fern, the fanciful ‘Live from Evam’ was the official event manager and recently added to Kochi’s latest accomplishments as a city, Emke Group’s LuLu Mall was the official Mall partner.

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The fest kicked off with a play titled “How to Skin a Giraffe” directed by Rajiv Krishnan, is an imaginative adaptation of “Leonce and Lena” by German playwright Georg Buchner.  Intrigued by the title itself, I proceeded to my seat wondering what I had signed myself up for. Running for a span of 100 minutes with a short 10 minute intermission for refreshments, the play started very peculiarly, with all the actors repeatedly performing a single stochastic action, to some delightful live instrumental music being played in the background.  From that point on, the story began to unwind and how.

The storyline revolves around two dynasties, involving a son and a daughter and their quest for freedom whilst being dragged into a marriage on convenience and the inevitable role of chance, the inevitable turning of events triggered by the Universe as it may seem. The beauty of this play lies largely in its execution; the entire play seems almost surreal with the excellent and well-timed humorous moments. It is truly unique as while narrating the story and making the audience laugh, it is almost satirical and points towards the sad conditioning of life and how we are all victims of the vicious cycle, this is the most enthralling feature of the play. It is almost magically conveyed in light tones by splendid acting done by all, each one has an equal amount of stage presence, which again, is unique and adds to the charm of the play. Another distinguishing feature is the interesting use of simple props, which just lie unsuspecting, in the audience’s eyes. The characters, each one given a strong, drawing personality, seem to pull of the difficult task of acting with extreme ease. Every emotion is conveyed clearly with an indication of a well written script.

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Popo, the prodigal son, is to be crowned the next king. His father, King Lubadub is the thinker as he is the chosen one to lead the people, who are foolish. The conniving Madam Momosa, on the other hand, runs a MNC which, well selected, is received with roars of laughter from the Kochi audience, runs a frozen seafood business and is hugely successful whilst exploiting the lower level employees. Her daughter is the trapped bird which never got away, Pipi, who dreams of chasing the wind someday. Both the children, have their lives laid out before them by the parents, who being extremely busy carrying out their respective duties, leave them in the care of two sidekicks and so goes the story.

Within the first fifteen minutes, the jaws drop as the King strips down to golden boxers. The well crafted play has more to offer, with a surprise Malayalam rap in the middle, and Madam Momosa’s indepth description of how the ‘happy and willing’ prawns are processed,  the audience is left in splits while watching the mockery that is made of precious life by the evils of conditioning.

The play leaves the audience with important yet unanswered questions related to power, control and the ill effects of hierarchy in society. The only short coming being the second half of the play, which failed to live up to the sheer brilliance in the first one, nevertheless, it is theatre work like ‘How to Skin A Giraffe’ which will go on to shape the face of the upcoming Indian theatre scene. A play recommended for all as it offers an interesting pot-pourri of topics filled with light humour.  

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