Aaina Dramatics’ performed their main production for this semester, In the Name of Blood at the Syndicate Golden Jubilee Hall on the 1st of November,2019. The play opened to a full auditorium, with the audience eager to watch the much-publicized murder mystery cum horror drama.
Set in the 1920s, the play depicts the story of a ghost that prevails in Hotel Hawthorne. The ghost can be fun and playful but will not spare the guilty.
The play portrays the dark and haunted times where the rich and powerful ruled most of America. In the era of the Capones, murders were committed, businesses were shut, and people were held at gunpoints.
Maya, one of the greatest ghostbusters of the times is on a mission to find the killer. Is it only for the pay? Is she scared of the Capones too? Is she brave enough to bring down the Capones?
CAST AND CHARACTERS:
Rakshit Yaduvanshi as Al Capone
Al Capone is the quintessential crime kingpin. He does not care for the law, walks around with a group of underlings who will go to any length to protect him, and is loved by the common citizens. The characteristic background music that plays whenever Al enters the stage adds to the character’s aura.
Rakshit Yaduvanshi pulls off the character fabulously and has the flamboyance and stage presence that is required for such a role.
Gaurav Chatterjee as Cal Capone
Cal Capone, Al’s brother is also a gangster. Cal is in a lot of ways like his brother; however, he has a bittersweet relationship with Al, and often lives under his shadow.
Gaurav does complete justice to the role and delivers both witty one-liners and sorrowful monologues with extreme ease.
It is also important to mention that Rakshit Yaduvanshi and Gaurav Chatterjee were also two of the three directors of the play.
Varun Kapoor as Jaque William
Jaque William is one of the two ghostbusters and is Maya’s closest friend. Jaque is a loyal friend to Maya, however certain misunderstandings cause a rift in their friendship.
Varun Kapoor’s performance is laudable with both funny and serious moments. The way he managed to carry a frightened walk and when needed the persona of a confident man is plausible.
Druti Singh as Maya Carlton
Maya Carlton is a ghostbuster and plays a pivotal role in the drama. Her interpretation of the ghost’s messages and desire to stand up to the Capones form the crux of the story.
Druti Singh does a wonderful job as Maya, and the scenes where she is possessed by Sadie’s spirit are one of the highlights of the play- her facial expressions and body language were captivating and made the audience engrossed in the plot.
Maulik Jain as Pete Patron
Pete Patron is an undercover cop and member of the Untouchables, who works for the Capones. His actions while working for the Capones form a crucial part of the climax of the play.
Maulik Jain manages a convincing portrayal of the cop with shades of grey. A very appreciable aspect of the character was the classic hairstyle and moustache, and the thick, bold accent which was well carried.
Shivalika Chaudhary as Sadie Smithington
Sadie Smithington is the ghost who haunts Hotel Hawthorne. Her only objective is to avenge the death of her lover, John.
Shivalika Chaudhary as Sadie is a treat to watch and manages to make the audience laugh hysterically in one moment and sit silently with fear in another.
Isha Apte as Vera Morgan
Vera Morgan is initially introduced as Jaque’s love interest. However, it is later revealed that she is associated with the Capones. Vera quickly transforms from a sweet, innocent woman to her original evil and cunning self.
Isha Apte is excellent as Vera and although she doesn’t have much screen time she leaves an impact on the audience.
Rishabh Agarwal as Judge Rutherford
He is the judge in Al Capone’s murder trial. His trial scene is vital in making the audience understand the clout that Al Capone held during those times.
The aggressive voice and the strained, enraged face put on by Rishabh Agarwal has done justice to the role.
Prishita Das and Prateek Singh as Remmy Remington and Danny Tomlinson
The two characters respectively are the owners of Hotel Hawthorne which serves as a hub to illegally sell alcohol. Their business is failing due to the slump in the economy, and as a result, are unable to pay the Capones their share.
Avi Giri as Elliot Ness
Elliot Ness is a police officer whose mission is to end the tyrannous rule of the Capones and is the leader of The Untouchables. He isn’t afraid of the Capones’ power and would do whatever it takes to bring about their downfall. Avi Giri carries the role of a rugged, no-nonsense police offer with extreme confidence and conviction.
Swapnil Sinha as Mugsy Joseph
Mugsy works for the Capones and his serves as the comic relief in the play. His drunk escapades inside Hotel Hawthorne brought quite a few laughs.
Aniket Das as Henry Davis
Henry Davis works for the Capones and is kidnapped by the police to get information from him. Although the role is small, it has quite an impact on the course of the play.
Ayushi Mehrotra as Sally Alby
Sally Davis is an employee at Hotel Hawthorne who Mugsy claims he is in love with. Sally, however, does not reciprocate his love.
Shaunak Date as Various Characters
Throughout the play, there is one face you see in almost every scene, despite that not being the face of the protagonist. Shaunak Date dons multiple roles in the drama and excels in every one of them. From being a priest to a guest at Hotel Hawthorne, Shaunak’s ability to quickly adapt to the mannerisms of the various characters he played was impressive. Although he did not have many dialogues, he managed to captivate the audience just by way of his expressions.
LIGHTS AND MUSIC
The lighting on stage was befitting throughout the play – serious scenes were complimented with red lighting, while the more light-hearted scenes used dimmer colours. The constant flickering of the lights during certain scenes, although sited the scene was, however, a little hard on the eye.
The live music was exceptional and deserves appreciation – the groovy music that played for Al Capone, the delicate music during the horror scenes, and the intense sounds during suspenseful moments, all pulled the play’s quality up a notch. Although the music and sound arrangements were commendable, there was one slight mismanagement on the part of the team, which could’ve had an impact on the play. The gunshot echo was more than once out of sync with the ongoing act and the time gap was noticeable.
“It was a very special and overwhelming experience. This being our last play in Manipal, we will remember and cherish it for a lifetime. This is the largest production we have worked on. We had the most talented and hardworking actors to work with. The process of moulding them into their respective, contrasting characters was a magical experience. This show would not have been possible without the relentless work of our assistant directors, production, back end and sets team.”
The play lived up to the reputation that Aaina has built through the years. The meticulous planning of the sets and costumes and the remarkable acting by every member of the cast is a hallmark of the club’s commitment to its craft. While the story did seem a little scattered at times and the plot twists too melodramatic, the overall performance was commendable. It was quite an emotional event for the fourth-year students of the club, for whom this would be the last play.
Written by Sudarshan Sivakumar and Tejas Mishra for MTTN
Images by Rohit Anand, Shashank PV and Sudarshan Sathyamoorthy for MTTN