"He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster.”
Friedrich Nietzsche’s famous words are often invoked every time a political revolution goes awry. The question facing the protagonists — as well as the audience — of Sam Holcroft’s play Edgar and Annabel is how is one to abstain from becoming the thing one’s fighting.
Edgar and Annabel premiered at London’s National Theatre as part of a programme for emerging playwrights in 2013. The play, set in a minuscule kitchen and centred on an ordinary couple, mirrors the dystopian politics of the world outside. It’s a dystopian domestic thriller, admits Sunandha Raghunathan, director of the play’s first production in India, courtesy of Chennai Art Theatre and Guduguduppukkari.
“I first read the play in 2018 when it was given to me by my mentor Anupama Chandrasekhar. I was blown away by the play and went around promoting it as if I were paid for it because I was eager to direct it on stage. The opportunity to stage this production finally arrived in September. We started rehearsals in October, and we’re ready with our show this weekend,” said Sunandha, a Charles Wallace
Scholar active in theatre since 2005 and co-founder of the theatre group Guduguduppukkari. In 2019, Sunandha was a member of the Lincoln Centre Theatre Director’s lab, a three-week residency based in New York that invited theatre directors from around the world.
Like any other couple, the play depicts its chief protagonists arguing over things like purchasing the right groceries and cooking dinner. But they do so holding a script prepared for them.
Commenting on the writing, Sunandha added, “Sam Holcroft is an extraordinary writer. The script is unbelievably tight, and what I think it does is, makes you question revolutions. But it is also a love story. Very often, we tend to shy away from love stories as intellectuals because we somehow think they are beneath us.”
The Chennai production of Edgar and Annabel promises to be a technical tour-de-force, with set and lighting design by Charles B, and a stellar cast of theatre artists. It’s a product made to the highest technical standards, Sunandha said and is seemingly confident that it will wow audiences.
The play’s premise on dystopian politics should make it relevant to audiences outside its home turf of the UK, but Sunandha does not feel a play has to be relevant to be relatable. “Any play we watch, whether it’s set in Wakanda or San Jose or Delhi, we put our lives into it as an audience, and in that sense it becomes relevant,” she added.
‘Edgar and Annabel’ will be performed at Medai, Alwarpet on December 3, 4 pm and 7 pm. Tickets can be purchased on BookMyShow