The 38th National Youth Drama Festival has started with Jehan Sri Kantha Appuhamy’s play Sookara Asapuwa for the common man in Sri Lanka. You may absolutely love it or hate it. If you love it, you will be open to taste the new dimension of the human spirit.

What is heroism? Is it the great thing dealing with death in the process? Is it possible to give-up your life to the country? What is honour? Is it on your shoulder or on the other’s? And then what do others do? Talk to yourself. Do you give any respect to anyone who ran away from War? Many of the common men reject them irrespective of how much they have committed to others before they ran away. In today’s context, these questions are waving up in our country, and Jehan has been able to bring it up at the right time when absent soldiers are playing a cat and mouse game with the police.
I found similarity in both, Director Jehan Appuhamy and the original South African writer, Athol Fugard; both are trying to correlate the Soviet war with the local situation. It will be a challenging task to plant exact Soviet feelings on local ground. However, if everybody does a commercially formatted stage play, the stage plays will also become a commercially industrialized money-making Play Mill. I feel great respect for Director Jehan Appuhamy for adding a diversified vibrant block to The 38th National Youth Drama Festival, as well as to the country.
The play is not fiction. It is a true story in the era of World War II, Pavel Navrotsky, who ran away from the Soviet army and covered for 41 years. His hiding place was his pig farm and his single point contact, only his patient and faithful wife, Praskovya.
The theme here is clear. Pavel (Jehan) the courageous soldier, having energy, is still just a powerless individual until a pig eats the symbol of freedom.
The stage lighting management is excellent along with sounds. There are many scenes, which reveal the true feelings of what the two characters are going through. Many scenes feature with lighting, used in artistic ways.
At times, the stage almost looks and feels like a pig sty, of course, no smell. Similarly, their night walks in the cold night felt real even though the 6D Stage Play is still not invented. Acting is overall credible. I especially liked the performances of Pavel’s wife Praskovya, as a loyal woman who tries to help Pavel. Jehan has excellent ability to show real freedom in a more personal level while struggling with his inner devil. I felt Jehan is not acting, Jehan is Pavel!

On the stage, at the Tower Hall Theatre, Jehan plays Pavel and Oshadee plays his wife, Praskovya. Both young actors exhibit their characters far beyond their stage hours.
Jehan has a commanding voice and in scenes where Pavel explodes his anger. Oshadee is the patient wife who unconditionally loves Pavel, however, she is unable to help him out of his emotional and physical Pig Prison.
The play is inspiring, the complex and complicate dinner, the human soul which deals with an artificially created political and social fabric. The play is highly recommended for those who like their theatre with an intellectual edge as well as who are open-minded.
I believe the play could promote the few humorous pieces which it already has, as in so many contemporary plays, however, using it up to Director Jehan’s wish.
All in all, I love this play and cannot recommend this to enough people. It is going to be criticized by the pro-war lobby who either will feel that the play encourages wrong behaviour and diminishing morale.
In fact, I think that the play shows the real spirit of the men with honour. It is evidence that soldiers will remain honourable no matter how they come home.
Love it or hate it.

(Sunday Observer)

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