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    Perch returns with Under the Mangosteen Tree, a revival of stories by writer MK Basheer

    It has been a decade and Chennai-based theatre group Perch’s love for VM Basheer’s works has only matured. Starting with Moonshine and Skytoffee, a 2004 play based on two of the Malayalam writer’s short love stories, the group has been giving the audience a taste of his works in regular doses. This weekend, they are ready to stage another sample of Basheer’s satire and wit with the play, Under the Mangosteen Tree.
    The one-hour-50-minute show seamlessly interweaves six stories—Poovan Banana (Poovan Pazham), The Blue Light (Neela Velicham), Walls (Mathilukal), Voices (Shabdangal), The World Renowned Nose (Viswavikhayatamaya Mookku) and The Man (Oru Manushyan). “Neela Vilicham— which is about Basheer coming to a house where a girl had committed suicide, and having conversations with her—is the central story. The other five stories are woven into it in a non-linear fashion,” says director Rajiv Krishnan.
    Though all the stories take place in Kerala, Krishnan says there was no effort to locate it in the state or a particular period. “But we do have actors sporting the mapla (Muslim) costume or a kurta with mundu, like Basheer did. Also, hits of singers KL Saigal, MS Subbulakshmi and Talat Mahmood will run in the background, as those were Basheer’s favourites,” he says.
    The play was staged as Sangathi Arinhya (Have you heard!) several times, before it was revived last year with a new title. “We wanted to make it crisper. So we removed a large scene, trimmed the cast down to seven (from nine), and used six stories instead of seven,” he says. “And we named it Under the Mangosteen Tree after a festival we’d organised for Basheer’s centenary (in 2008),” he signs off.

    At Alliance Francaise, on April 25-26, at 3.30 pm and 7.30 pm. Rs 200. Details: eventjini.com

    Naveena Vijayan

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