Not every day do you get to see the entire Shah family on stage together. Riding Madly Off In All Directions, which is a smorgasbord of acts, features Naseeruddin Shah, Ratna Pathak Shah, Heeba Shah, Imaad Shah and Vivaan Shah. At the start of the play, Naseeruddin Shah gives a short introduction of Canadian writer Stephen Leacock, whose work the play is based on.
All the eight acts in the play were set in a completely different era and the costumes reflected that. After the introduction by Naseer Saab, there were two short acts, one of which featured brothers Imaad and Vivaan. Ratna Pathak came on stage soon after and spoke about the human element in mathematics. This one clearly brought the house down. Who would have thought that the A, B, C or X, Y, Z in algebra problems could be human beings? Her solo act is easily the highlight of the play. Shah’s way of narrating a story is simply outstanding and even though the act was a bit long, not once will you find yourself distracted. Sheeba, too, made a lasting impression when she spoke about depositing money in a bank.
Vivaan Shah, who has acted in films like Happy New Year and Laali Ki Shaadi Mein Laaddoo Deewana, got to show his true potential in the act – The Conjurer's Revenge. The actor is clearly wasted in Bollywood by being made to play to the gallery. Imaad, on the other hand, was seen in most acts and was as impressive as his brother.
Post interval, there were just two acts but a little longer ones. The first one had all the actors besides Naseeruddin Shah and was a wonderful take on how kids never see the dark side of poems and stories. Naseer Saab who was barely there in any of the acts saved the best for last. He did a solo act in which he spoke about a future which had no wives, kids or families. The people there were absolutely selfish, caring little about the society. Though the act may be been a bit difficult to understand, Shah’s acting prowess made it a fitting finale.
It doesn't matter if you are a theatre purist or not as Riding Madly Off In All Directions will keep you engaged throughout. Even for the sheer talent associated with the play, it is worth the ticket price. Catch it when it happens in your city.