A night full of amusement and laughter, MUSLSA’s annual charity play Death of a Salman opened last night to begin its three night run.
With little connection to the play its title satirises, the show instead portrays a parody of the classic murder mystery plot, all presented through a light-hearted and comedic lens. The plot follows an eclectic bunch of characters who are invited to the funeral of a very distant relative, the incredibly rich actor Mr Salman. It was the diversity of these characters, and the energy with which the actors brought them to life, which provided the key to the show’s success.
The cast worked cohesively together despite every actor bringing a unique style to the stage, each to varying degrees of success. While many actors lacked conviction and commitment to the physicality of their characters, Sid Nair was certainly not one of them. His slick performance demonstrated a mastery of both the physical and verbal traits of his character, and his excellent delivery consequently strengthened his comedy. The only negative element of his performance was that it only spanned one act. Other standout performances were given by Shalini Harasgama and Madhura Bandara in their roles as the twins Pappadee and Pappadum. The dynamic duo had the audience in hysterics. They were able to bounce off each other’s energy and follow through on their delivery, demonstrating a strong understanding of comic timing.
The dance sequences were undeniably a highlight, each a visual spectacle of unity and expression. Hasini Illangaratne and Imasha Weerasinghe displayed an excellent grasp of formations and contrasting movements through their simple yet effective choreography. The energetic and stylish way it was executed by the dancers should also be commended. The movement was complemented perfectly by the use of lighting and costume, which played a large role in accentuating the ambience that the dance numbers contributed to the narrative.
The set design was simple but aesthetic, and added a depth and sense of place to many scenes. However, it was not worth the minute-long scene changes that continually disrupted the flow of the performance.
The lighting design, by Nevin Walpola and Chatura Attanayake, was used frequently. However, unlike many shows where excessive use of lighting can hinder or distract from the action, it enhanced the hilarity of the performance. Occasionally the seamlessly executed lighting transitions even saved some otherwise lengthy and at times dull scenes. The sound design, by Karvinda Munasinghe, was also used expertly to comic effect.
The humour was very audience specific; however, effort was made to accommodate all tastes. Whether it was due to the exploiting of student stereotypes or the referencing of relatable elements of Sri Lankan culture, the audience was cackling with laughter on many occasions throughout the performance. The comedy was aided by a mostly fast-paced and engaging script.
Ultimately, MUSLSA put on a lively performance which was at worst enjoyable and at best hilarious.
MULSLA’s production of Death of a Salman runs from April 6th – 8th at the Union House Theatre.