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Screen + Sound + Stage
November 17, 2014

Theatre Review: Einstein

Text by Shraddha Jahagirdar-Saxena

Six reasons why you should watch this play right away

We came up with six reasons why you must watch the theatrical performance of Einstein written by Gabriel Emmanuel, featuring Naseeruddin Shah. Of course, you may have more. Feel free to leave a comment, if so!

Naseeruddin Shah He owns ‘ze’ stage from the minute the lights go up. The fact that he looks like Einstein is but a minor point in the entire performance. The veteran actor slips under the Nobel Laureate’s skin to make the great scientist come alive. He makes you laugh, he invokes emotions in you, he makes you think…all done so effortlessly. He interacts with the audiences, playing them like a master musician, and honestly, he has you in the palm of his hand.

Einstein You learn more about Einstein, the man, through this rendition of his character. Though dealing with a man of stature and some grim issues, in no way is the play serious. Emmanuel captures the human essence of Einstein. He has a fantastic sense of humour, he is a bit of a flirt — brought out very cleverly in the character’s interactions with the audience and through his words. As shown here, he comes across as human, lovable…even as he is also shown as a man plagued with grief, anguish and anger at what the wars and mankind had wrought. The emotions play across his face, come through his tonal modulations.

The language Conversational, as Einstein seems to be talking to the audience, the flow of words is engaging. You listen intently, not wanting to miss any words. Time, relativity, continuum, gravity and other concepts are touched upon — simply and effectively. ‘One man’s then is another man’s now.’ To say more would be a spoiler.

The simplicity The set designed by Shruti Gupte is Einstein’s space. Reflecting his interests and character. No costume changes or heavy-duty lighting. Just the man, his work, his ambience and his thoughts.

Physics And of course, for all those who love the subject and have studied it, it’s a no-brainer.

The director Naseeruddin Shah himself. Need we say more?

Einstein
Performed by Naseeruddin Shah
Written by Gabriel Emmanuel
Directed by Naseeruddin Shah
Associate directors: Ratna Pathak Shah, Arghya Lahiri
A Motley Production

Shah Speak
On playing Einstein: “The challenge of playing a character as well documented as Albert Einstein means you have to conform to the way he spoke and behaved. It is quite different from playing a part which you create with your imagination.”

On being alone on stage:  “You have to play off the audience.”

On understanding Einstein more: “Not at all. Just as playing Mirza Ghalib or Mahatma Gandhi didn’t enhance my understanding of either! These people can’t be understood. One can only gape at their many extraordinary achievements. It is very good for the self esteem to play them, though!”

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