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Cricket Maniacs

Tuesday, July 18, 2017
By Deepa Gahlot

Theatre group Out Of The Box does pleasant little comedies—nothing outrageous or even mildly offensive. That’s why playwright Abhishek Pattnaik and director Suketu Shah, are able to pull off 'Last Over', a play about an Indo-Pak couple, with such warmth and good cheer.

Sunny (Pattnaik) and Zubaina (Gunjan Malhotra) live in London and work at a catering firm. He is from Amritsar and she IS from Karachi, so it takes them a while to muster up the courage to tell their families about their marriage. Then, her cricket-mad and very opinionated father Nazir (Anand Mahadevan) and his equally cricket-crazy and happy-go-lucky dad arrive in London and start their game of one-upmanship.

The couple has to go to work and keep their dads placated so that they don’t tear each other’s hair out. The fathers fight about everything right from who gets the bedroom to what music they play in the tiny apartment. But, to make their life really miserable, the fathers demand tickets for the World Cup match between India and Pakistan to be played at Lord’s in London, which is well-nigh impossible, even though their company is the official caterer. The tout they manage to find cheats them with fake tickets, and Sunny is annoyed to find a Pakistani colleague (Abhishek Krishnan) trying to butter up Nazir and flirt with Zubaina.

There is very little plot; the play is made up of the small spats and domestic tensions caused by the presence of the dads. It is understood that in comedy like this nothing untoward will take place and the ending will be happy, not anything grand like Indo-Pak peace, but certainly a better understanding of the other side. What better way to achieve this than the retraction of raised hackles and getting drunk together. In the end, it does not matter who wins the match, the game is meant to be enjoyed.

Rakesh Bedi has the best bits, and brings the house down every time he throws a punch line. Ananth Mahadevan's Pakistani character is a bit stiff and snobbish, but he is a perfect foil for Bedi in the Tom & Jerry like situations written for them. The young cast is fine too, but this one belongs to the seniors.

A bit of trimming and tightening and 'Last Over' can have a long innings.

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