We often wonder how priests (of any religion) dedicate their entire lives to spirituality. The decision to not have a family, bear children, or enjoy the pleasures of life is a hard one to make. How does one not fall prey to temptation? Do earthly desires make a person any less spiritual? Flowers by Rage Productions discusses all this and more in a dramatic monologue, originally written by playwright Girish Karnad. Rajit Kapur plays the role of a pious priest torn between his devotion to God, his duty to his wife, and his love for a courtesan. The 1-hour-30-minute monologue takes you through his ultimate dilemma of choosing between devotion and desires while piercing through your moral compass.
What’s Flowers About:
Upon entering the theatre, you are first subjected to the strong smell of loban. Mogra remains are scattered all over the stage, and a mound of mogra garlands lies towards the back of the stage, covering the sacred lingam. A pot of bubbling water is placed at the center, with a huge platform a few feet above it. It is on this platform that Rajit Kapur performs the entire monologue. The setup is clearly of a temple, with hues of green and blue lighting the stage. The music is soothing, the tempo gradually rising to put you into a trance-like state.
Then Rajit begins his monologue – delving into his dedication to God and worshipping the lingam, performing his duties as a husband, and ultimately falling in love with a courtesan. Even his relationship and obligation to the chieftain of the kingdom are addressed. When an incident leads his love and duty to collide on a single night, the priest faces a moral dilemma – one he cannot find the answer to.
It’s hard to be distracted in a one-act play, and Flowers keeps your eyes fixed on Rajit. As soon as he begins his monologue, he captures the audience’s attention away from the mesmerizing set. He poses a convincing figure and his predicament is arduous yet relatable. While no other characters appear, it is easy to imagine the story as he narrates it. The set, lights, music, and his tone are meant to entrap you into his dilemma, even though you may not have answers to the questions posed. Lights play a huge role in the production, constantly switching between green, blue, white, and even yellow, without you realizing it. It is done slowly and subtly, each new color setting a new mood and casting a different shadow of the priest who stands at a height from the stage. Director Roysten Abel is certainly meant to be applauded for conceptualizing this larger-than-life setting, providing the narrative a mystical quality.
What Could’ve Been Better:
The stage is practically unused for the entirety of the performance. Front-row seats (which are otherwise coveted at Prithvi) are not optimal for this play.
Why You Should Watch:
Flowers is one of the four plays being performed by Rage Productions at Prithvi Theatre this week. It is one of the best works of Girish Karnad and captures the soul of human desires. There’s a contemporary take on age-old issues, with an almost sacrilegious view of spirituality. Everything about the play is meant to entrap you into a world of moral dilemmas – one you will not be able to escape anytime soon. Catch it as it stages once again this evening, at the hub of theatre in Mumbai.