Saturday, August 11, 2007

Ristorante Immortale

Top left to right -> Master, Lady Cook.
Bottom left to right -> "Senior" waiter, "Vain Head" waiter, "Rookie" waiter.

"Ristorante Immortale" is depicted as being poised on everywhere and nowhere, between heaven and hell. It is the restaurant that has few staffs that never serve and never sleep. This is a depiction of a place which never closes but never really opens; a microcosm of self-deception and unfulfilled ambitions. And to top it is a silent and masked theatrics performance where the actors wear giant, sometimes sinister masks! A deserted restaurant as this is a scene for a tragic as well as comic allegory of the peculiarities of human existence.

They engage us with the tragic-comic aspects of provincial life through the inconsequential daily routine in an unsuccessful restaurant. In spite of the noticeable lack of patrons, a grumpy cook, a suave maitre de(French word in English means Master) and three clumsy waiters go about their business steeped in the ludicrous rituals of trivia. The slightly over-sized masks delineate character through expression and these are carried over into body language by the five strong cast of accomplished physical actors. This is a tragic tale of hopes gone awry mitigated by an endearing comedy of middle-class manners. Each of the characters in turn comes face to face with his own alter ego as unfulfilled longings are revealed.

All human life is in here, from the vain head waiter who examines his reflection in the silver tray to the aging senior waiter whose arthritic hips mean he can no longer quite keep up, from the grumpy fat lady as the chief chef to the 'rookie' intern who is aiming to make it big. Daily the untiring staff makes all preparations; daily opens its doors for the much awaited customers. No one come any day every day. The thick fat cook, who lives like an ambassador to another world, is depicted as being always behind the door hatch in the kitchen. In a world, in which the life turns only around itself, a fantastic labyrinth of relations, fears and desires develops. The restaurant is the fate of each particular person there, their dream, their memory and eventually the bond between the folks that work there which forces the fat cook and the rest of the jug heads to search for the old man who leaves the restaurant finally one day realizing he had lost everything working in the restaurant. The interesting facet of the play was how the old man gives way to his memories of him as a youngster on the stage when he first came to the restaurant and how easily he got the place in order so soon. And I remember only one visitor, his love, come in once to leave because his heart made him not to flirt with the customer and there he kissed bye to his love life. Fantastic portrayal.

In a nut shell, this play staying just the right side of fey and enjoyable for all the family, the show is deceptively simple but is based on great skill and terrific observational comedy. Like a waiter in a really good restaurant, it is eager to please. And it does leave you satisfied, if not necessarily hungry for more.

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