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Sammy

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  • May 2008
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Art event – A review of Sammy! The word that broke an Empire

This play is a two- hour journey into the travails of being a Mahatma in an ordinary world. It spans Gandhi’s life from his first case in South Africa in 1893, to his assassination more than half a decade later.

The script is a product of years of research by playwright Partap Sharma. It is directed by Lillette Dubey, and aided by a competent cast. Everyone besides the main protagonists reappears in several roles. Throughout the play, we encounter the conflict between Gandhi the ordinary man, and Gandhi, the Mahatma in the making. This is effectively portrayed by the voice of his conscience that goads him on in his weakest moments, that brings him down a couple of pegs when he is veering from his ideals, and provides him with inspiring advice when he is floundering.

The most endearing qualities of Gandhiji; his transparent honesty, his idealism and his sense of humour are brought alive in the two-hour performance. We come face to face with his inner devils, and relive his tumultuous relationship with his wife, Kasturi. One scene between Kasturi and Gandhi was so electrifying in its emotional impact that you could hear audible gasps from the audience. It deals with Kasturi who is struggling to do the best she can for her family and her children, whilst Gandhi tries to do his best for humanity. In the space of two hours we traverse the inner travails of a strongly idealistic man and the sacrifices he and his family had to make to keep those ideals alive.

The play also manages to portray Gandhiji’s disappointment with the inevitable partition of India and the sense of redundancy that creeps in towards the end of his life particularly in his dealings with the Congress.

The sets are simple, divided into clearly delineated sections where different scenes transpire, yet a fluidity of movement is retained in transitions between one scene and another. The soundtrack often makes...