Promising parkour, pop songs and the panto’s irreverence, Prince of Persia premieres next month
The Little Theatre’s annual pantomime is turning an ‘adult’, with its 21st edition. So it seems fitting that this year the theme is Prince of Persia, based on the hugely popular video game series that millennials have grown up playing—with great action and strong characters. And with a cast of 21 adults and 40 youngsters, they seem well equipped to bring the fantastic thriller on stage. “It was tricky considering we are talking about a video game that has a huge legacy. Moreover, there are certain elements—be it stunts, dialogues or even the movement of some characters—that fans are very particular about. So we researched the game, staying as true as we can to the key characters, while giving it the panto twist,” begins Krishnakumar Balasubramanian, who has co-scripted and directed it.
Back to the future
Being promoted as a laugh-out-loud musical adventure through time, the play is set in a futuristic world, with the protagonist time-travelling thousands of years back to Persia, to save the world. And there are a few other surprises, too. “The video game has always had strong female characters. So we looked into recent films with such roles and introduced Artemisia, the female warrior from 300. You can also expect a professor Sherlock or even a Baahubali,” he laughs. The biggest challenge, however, was tackling the element of violence that is intrinsic to the game. With a family audience, the last thing you want is blood and gore on stage. “We had to tread a fine line to keep the action humorous and fun—much like a Jackie Chan film that is full of action, but leaves you chuckling,” explains the director, who has also choreographed the stunts—sword fighting, hand-to-hand combat and parkour—all done live.
With lavish sets—grand castles to a post-apocalyptic lab (“as elaborate as Museum Theatre allows”)—and costumes designed by Rehane, Balasubramanian says he’s experimented with lighting. “Nothing will be flat. Every light will work with the actor and the part of the set he will be working with, to highlight what needs to be,” he says. The production will also have 10 songs, a mix of contemporary pop, Disney numbers, soundtracks and even a Tamil song. “Except for the Tamil number, the remaining will be sung live. Kavita Baliga, our vocal trainer, has really fleshed out their voices,” says the 28-year-old, who has a busy schedule next year, with invitations from theatre festivals in Germany and Italy.
December 4-9, at the Museum Theatre. From `100. Details: indianstage.in
—Surya Praphulla Kumar