by Megha Bhattacharya
When I first read “Tuesdays With Morrie” as a 14 year old, I picked up the book reluctantly finding the premise too preachy for my adolescent angst. But the engaging writing of Mitch Albom and Morrie’s warm humour got me engaged quickly and it very naturally became a personal favorite.
There couldn’t have been a better play than Tuesdays With Morrie to be SRT’s opening act after 7 months of closure. A play about hope, love and the eternal sunshine of a life well lived – just what one needs in unpredictable times like now. With a 2 member stellar cast consisting of Benjamin Chow as Mitch and Remesh Panicker as Morrie, Samantha Scott-Blackhall has directed a very heartfelt rendition of Tuesdays with Morrie doing complete justice to the play written by Mitch Albom & Jeffrey Hatcher. A special mention is deserved by Petrina Dawn Tan for the beautiful set design and her attention to detail in setting up the right ambience for the play.
It’s a simple story of a career obsessed thirty-something, Mitch, visiting his college sociology professor, Morrie, after 16 years. A lot has changed in each of their lives – Mitch is a successful workaholic and Morrie continues to “coach” the world while battling Lou Gehrig’s Disease (ALS). What started out as a “my one good deed of the day” in Mitch’s calendar soon became an eye-opening pilgrimage to learning how to live. The play’s “teachings” are made all the more poignant by their truthfulness, simplicity and a resolute refusal to wallow in sentimentality. The portrayal of illness and death is honest and bereft of any romanticism – maybe that’s why you leave the theatre with a smile on your face even though the end is somewhat woeful.
The direction of the play was clean and crisp in its delivery and the presentation aesthetically pleasing. I particularly loved the nod to O’Henry’s Last Leaf especially when it was juxtaposed by the dialogues quoting O’Henry. And the camaraderie between the actors was palpable even as an audience member – they made it seem like Mitch and Morrie just picked it up from where they left off. Both the actors did a wonderful job, but Panicker took the cake with his portrayal; he offered a subtle, insightful characterisation conveying Morrie’s wit, charm, pragmatism and humour while also graphing his physical decline with near-clinical precision.
In all, SRT’s Tuesdays with Morrie was an enchanting episode of nostalgia for someone who’s read the book and for all a refreshing take on living, loving and learning without ever making you feel sermonised to. KC Arts Centre has taken it up a notch by crafting a beautiful theatre experience which allows you to immerse yourself into Morrie’s living room seamlessly. If you’re looking to come back to the theatre – there wouldn’t be a better show than Tuesdays with Morrie. They are playing several shows every day until 11th December 2020 (extended by popular demand!). You can book your tickets here.