Director Saleem Shah’s play ‘Woody Allen’s Side Effects’ is an adaptation of three stories written by Woody Allen in the early 1970’s. The stories picked by Saleem Shah are The Lunatic’s Tale, Retribution, and Remembering Needleman. It was staged at Alliance Francaise, Lodhi Estate. It is a quaint place, perfect to enjoy the play and have a hearty laugh.
WHAT’S THE PLAY ABOUT:
It is a two-act play. The first act, The Lunatic’s Tale performed by Saleem Shah himself, is a witty piece about Dr. Arup Dutta who could not find true love. He keeps getting stuck between love and lust. The wit and humor are so subtle that nothing feels weird about a doctor who swaps the brains of his wife and mistress.
The second act comprises of two stories. Retribution is a hilarious story about a Parsi man, Rustom Billimoria, played by Ankit Mishra, who is in love with a fine woman named Carol. Things take a comic turn when he falls in love with his lover’s mother, Sheryl. Rustom marries Sheryl after a full-fledged family drama that just adds more spice to the spectacle. The last story is a long and funnily weird obituary from Professor Partho Chattopadhyay on the death of his childhood best friend, Professor Partho Mukhopadhyay. Although a professor, Partho Mukhopadhyay’s life philosophy is as bizarre and funny as the obituary. Contemplating God’s existence and his weight was one of the questions he asked during his life and made hilarious existential comments.
Saleem Shah has very intelligibly adapted the literature authored by Woody Allen, incorporating jokes that would tickle the Indian funny bone. He changed the names and brought in different present-day elements of the Indian society. The stories may have been written long ago but the theme of love and relationships has always been relevant. Saleem Shah’s direction and acting were splendid and he was a treat to watch as the lustful Dr. Arup, roaming the streets to find his true love.
WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER:
The play is an adaptation of Woody Allen’s stories and a lot of the jokes would be lost if the audience is not used to dark humor. The wit that requires a certain level of taste to enjoy it completely.
WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH IT:
If you enjoy Woody Allen’s work, dark humor, subtle wit, love stories with a twist then this play is for you. This is the first time anyone has adapted the stories into a play and it is fun to watch the actors bring such comical stories to life.
— Vishakha Bhagia