The pre-recorded production, directed by film and theatre veteran Akash Khurana, will be streamed online
Eerie, atmospheric, terrifying… It’s how Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Hound of the Baskervilles (featuring the world’s greatest consulting detective Sherlock Holmes, and the faithful Dr Watson) has been described.
Now, with Aadyam’s revival production, there is another word to describe this story: comical.
Adapted by Steven Canny and John Nicholson, the play was first staged by Aadyam in 2015. The new production, the second play of Aadyam’s Digital Edition, which has been directed by film and theatre veteran Akash Khurana, features actors Vivek Madan, Arghya Lahiri, and Nadir Khan. The pre-recorded production will be streamed online on January 9, 16 and 17.
Talking about the play, Akash says, “It retains everything about the original [novel] without being a bad parody or a ridiculous spoof. It actually enhances the spirit of the novel. That’s what I found wonderful because you have to be totally in love with the text to be able to keep the magic and yet do your own take on it. The fact that we’ve been asked to revisit it and do online [shows]… Obviously, the taste of the pudding has worked. It’s been tested and the audience has loved it.”
Do people have a fixed idea of how they want to see Sherlock Holmes every time the stories are adapted for stage or screen? “Some people may have a fixed idea but the problem is that the new generation doesn’t read,” says Akash. “They may have seen the show [Sherlock starring Benedict Cumberbatch] which, in any case, is not the original [it is a modern-day adaptation]. The fact that they liked it means the character works. I do believe that some of the people who watched the play went back and read the original stories. So, in a larger context, it helps to introduce people to something that is special.”
The experience of doing theatre with no live audience present owing to the pandemic was unusual, but Akash found that it also led to people pushing their creativity and trying out variations of art forms. “What our company discovered is that it’s tough to restrain people who want to be creative and be out there. My company, AKvarious Productions, actually had performances online through the six-seven months. So, it’s not dampened people’s spirits; it’s hampered activity to some extent. But definitely, the way things are done has changed. While things are opening up now, March to November were desperate times. The silver lining was that come what may, things survive if not thrive.”
The three actors — Vivek, Arghya, and Nadir — take on 15 roles — a particular challenge for the director working with the actors mostly online. “The text kind of provides for those variations in terms of basic guidelines. Then the rapport that I have with the actors is so comfortable; they are so bright on the take,” he says.
The actors went on the floor for only about a week whereas the original production required about three to six months of rehearsal. “For this, we did about 15 online sessions. Ultimately, we shot it over two days,” says Akash. “We added several kinds of cameras; we could pick and choose angles and make it more of a ‘tactile’ experience. For me, that’s the victory. That we got this almost, if not better than the original, with one-tenth of the rehearsals.”
The shows begin at 7 pm. Tickets are available on insider.in