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The Madras Players is back with another comedy, this one a Neil Simon classic

In a career spanning five decades, actor PC Ramakrishna says he has been inspired only thrice to helm a stage production. This from a man who has been with the country’s oldest English theatre group, The Madras Players, for over 45 years, and has been involved in over 120 plays with them. “I haven’t really kept count. I’m basically an actor. I’ve taken up direction only when there has been a need,” says the 70-year-old, who talks about his directorial ventures, including California Suite, which will be staged in the city next week.
Water, his directorial debut, came about because he wanted to adapt a Tamil play he admired—theatre personality Komal Swaminathan’s classic work, Thaneer Thaneer—into English because, he says, “nobody was comfortable adapting, given its rural milieu and theme of water shortage”. His second and more recent work, Honour, was the result of his admiration for the bravery of the armed forces.
Boxed in
As for California Suite, he attributes it to his fascination for American playwright Neil Simon’s humour and the latter’s fascination for hotels. “Simon is a terrific comedy writer, a wonderful wordsmith with a subtle sense of humour,” says Ramakrishna, adding that Simon set Plaza Suite (staged by The Madras Players way back in the 1970s) and London Suite, in hotels too. The play revolves around three couples hailing from varied backgrounds, all grappling with different problems with only a hotel suite (Suite 203 in Hollywood Hotel) as their common denominator. “There is a certain kind of neutrality that a hotel suite gives. It is like pushing people out of their comfort zones to iron out their problems,” explains the actor, adding that he has the advantage of working with an experienced cast.
Fire fighting
The 80-minute play involves a divorced couple dealing with the custody of their daughter (Michael Muthu and Achala Punja), a Jewish man caught with a hooker by his wife (TM Karthik and Mahitha Suresh), and a man and his actress-wife who has won her first Academy nomination ( PC and Tehzeeb Katari). Despite directing and acting in the play, Ramakrishna is rather bashful about his role in the production. “Call it overseeing if you must,” he insists, adding that up next he could be doing a play with an Indian author to be staged in November.
September 11- 13, at the Museum Theatre, at 7.15 pm. Rs 200 onwards. Details: in.bookmyshow.com
—Sharadha Narayanan

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