‘Fret’ by Dravida Theatre is a live play that happens over a Zoom call, and has an interactive session that includes the audience.

Eight people appear in different windows of a screen, all smiling and showing actions
Features Theatre Monday, August 02, 2021 - 19:08

As the music fades and a cheerful young woman with a guitar stops singing a Hindi song, two people emerge on the screen, making a lazy video call to each other. It is very familiar, these video calls, having become a part of life after COVID-19. The duo on the screen are in the comfort of their respective homes, casually dressed, making friendly talk till one asks the other about a therapy session. The woman on the call is a therapist – a psychologist – who agrees to talk to the family of the man on the call – a young pursuer of dreams having troubles at home.

It is, you have to remind yourself, a play being staged on screen – over Zoom, to be specific. The conversations are that casual and the setting so familiar that it could be just us listening in on someone’s call. But it is a play called Fret, presented by Dravida Theatre, performed live in front of an online audience who are all logged into the Zoom call.

The online play – which has an English and a Malayalam version – was first staged on July 25. The next show, a ticketed one, is on August 7.

Watch: Teaser of the English version

Inspired by Tennessee Williams’s The Glass MenagerieFret is written and directed by Akash Nath while the project design is by Divya Gopinath. Fret is formed by the first letters of the names of the four main characters – Franko, Reshma, Emy and Treesa. In English, these characters are played by Siddharth Varma, Parvathi Pradeep, Rose Sherin Ansary and Sumali KH respectively. In Malayalam, the same roles are played by Adhil, Archana Padmini, Varsha Valsan and Ramya Suvi.

In the middle of the play, there is an interactive session when people from the audience can also take part in the play. It fits easily with the rest of the play where therapy forms a major part of the setting. After the initial newness of theatre on screen, you don’t even notice the absence of a stage. The flickering of screens and faces seem as real as characters walking in and out of the stage.

Watch: Teaser of the Malayalam version

Like someone in the premiere of the play mentions, a new normal has been formed. In Malayalam cinema, you saw a version of screen-based presentation in C U Soon, Fahadh Faasil and Mahesh Narayanan’s experimental film.

Read: 'C U Soon' review: Mahesh Narayanan-Fahadh pull off experimental thriller

To watch the next live show of Fret at 7 pm on August 7, tickets are available here.

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