GIRISH KARNAD'S FLOWERS
Rage Theatre and Ranga Shankara (India)
Esplanade Theatre Studio/Tuesday
A devout priest has dedicated his life to the worship and care of a temple's stone lingam, the representation of the Hindu god Shiva. He is exacting and gifted at his work, particularly skilled in the use of flowers as an offering to the god.
But then he catches a glimpse of an excruciatingly beautiful courtesan and in an instant, his life is thrown into disarray.
Flowers, written by the well-known Indian playwright Girish Karnad, premiered in 2006 at Bangalore's Ranga Shankara Theatre Festival. The one-man show made its debut in Singapore as part of the Esplanade's annual Indian festival of the arts, Kalaa Utsavam.
I will preface this review by stating first that I am approaching this work from the point of view of an outsider, one familiar with Karnad's work, but who is also not an expert on the extensive corpus of work coming from the sub-continent, as well as its myriad cultures.
The 80-minute monologue reverberates with a quiet intensity, drawn out carefully by actor Rajit Kapur, who is arrestingly charismatic as the wayward priest.
With his marked physical control, Kapur cuts an illuminating figure despite the script's general sense of stasis; he barely moves from atop his perch, suspended almost magically above a stage strewn with petals by way of a platform resembling a springboard.
It is the plot, adapted from a Chitradurga folktale, that I find both thought-provoking and problematic.