Rashōmon: A Crime and Three Lies
As part of Manipal University’s literary and arts fest, MILAP, ‘Rashomon’ by ADA was captivating, intense, and beautifully suspenseful. A spin-off of the Japanese crime classic directed by Akira Kurosawa, ‘Rashomon’ was dexterously spun around to fit in commanding characters, Indian traditions, and a powerful plot. The play was directed by Abhinav Grover, an MIT alumnus, and was the outcome of several days of hard work put in by the Absolute Dramatics Addiction team.
The play revolves around the daunting and puzzling murder of a soldier, and the narrations of the three witnesses to this horrific crime. It begins with a priest, a woodcutter, and a third man, taking shelter at an old gatehouse known as Rashomon. The scholarly priest and the cowardly woodcutter are narrating the events that took place at the soldier’s trial, as they were themselves witnesses who were called to testify. A notorious bandit named ‘Tajomaru’ was also called to recount his side of the story, as it is believed that this man killed the soldier and raped his wife. However, he boasts about winning over the beautiful wife, and eventually defeating the soldier in a deadly duel. The soldier’s wife also confronts the jury, claiming that the bandit raped her, and then proceeded to kill her husband, who refused to take her back as his wife. However, both these tales were in stark contrast to each other. In a shocking turn of events, the deceased soldier himself speaks to the audience using a spiritual medium, and concocts yet another account of what happened the night of his murder. He admits to taking his own life due to the grief caused by his wife’s affair with the bandit.
While the audience was left to ponder over the events leading to the murder, the woodcutter confesses that he has witnessed the crime himself, and proceeds to narrate one final account of the unfortunate night. His revelations may or may not have been lies, and it was left to the audience to pick the story that fit the pieces in the puzzle.
The dim lighting, electrifying music, and the dynamic performances, made this play an absolute delight to watch. The actors had wonderful command over the audience, and the transition between consecutive scenes was carried out flawlessly.