A review on Pakistani Drama theatre play, ‘Twins Apart’ (2019). The Production House is Stage Nomad Productions. The Assistant Director & Sound Design is Rao Nauman Rahman while its Acting Director is Ishtiaq R. Omar.
- Written (Adapted) & Directed by Shah Sharahbeel
- Co-Written (Adapted) by Kulsoom Aftab
- Lighting by Syed M. Jamil
- Production Design by Tanveer Abbas
- Produced by Irfan Anwar, Hammad Ather Mehmood and Rao Rahman
Twins Apart is a musical play originally written by Willy Russell as ‘Blood Brothers’ (1983). The story is a contemporary nature versus nurture plot, revolving around fraternal twins, who were separated at birth, one subsequently being raised in a wealthy family, the other in a poor family. The different environments take the twins to opposite ends of the social spectrum. This play was held at Arts Council Karachi on 16th Feb 2019, media night. Ever since the show has started playing from 12th Feb 2019, the lead star, Faraz Ali has fallen ill with ‘Dengue’ fever. But due to his compassion and commitment to this play, he has been performing at his best without making the audience realize of his grave illness.
Other crew members are, makeup & hair styling is done by Incia Kazvini, costumes design by Sumaira Sheikh, dance choreography by Shazi & Ghani, fight choreography by Muhammad Ashfaq while the music is composed by Haris. The dance choreographer Ghani aka Mohammad Abdul Ghani has also played the supporting role of Raju. The stunt of Rikshaw (vehicle) wheeling is done by its actual driver, Shahid. Songs such as ‘Bang, Bang’ is originally sung by Nancy Sinatra in 1966 and ‘Ye Dosti’ is a remake of ‘Why This Kolaveri Di’ sung by Venkatesh Prabhu aka Dhanush in 2012. This is the debut play of lead actress, Kanwal Khan.
Just before the start of the play, an unnecessary feud was erupted on a minor issue. It took almost half an hour to sort this out. This in-fame incident is important enough to mention here so that we as part of the management could avoid such mishaps in future. Unfortunately, it has been a very long part of Art Council’s history where they have never taken proper measures over the management’s issues. A simple sign of having front two rows as ‘Reserved’ is sufficient for anyone not to take those seats for themselves. The rules & regulations given at the back of the ticket just said reserved seats but didn’t mentioned which rows or seats to which they are exactly pointing out to. I hope that this is avoided next time by any play’s / organizer’s management. We all make mistakes but do learn from it. That is all.
I am not a fan of this play’s end. Though, it is almost the same written in its original version, Blood Brothers. But the original play theme was revolving around a superstition (“Shoes Upon the Table”). Therefore, it makes sense why the original writer chose this ending for. However, as for this play, it was solely up to the writer to decide. If he wanted, he could have changed it. But I guess, he must be satisfied with its original ending only.
+ Main Cast:
- Faraz Ali as Mussa
- Umer Naru as Essa
- Kanwal Khan as Noorie
- Ifrah Khalid as Mrs. Safiha
- Faiza Mahmood as Mrs. Mariyum Qalabash
- Rehan Nazim as Singer & Narrator #1 (Main) / Raavi / Dancer #1
+ Supporting Cast
- Mohammad Abdul Ghani as Raju
- Hammad Ather Mehmood as Mr. Bilal Qalabash
- Armoghan Bela as Hammad / Passerby #1 / Singing Organizer
- Muslim Abbas as Prisoner / Tipu / Dancer #2
- Aneesha Altaf as Nisha / Passerby #3 / Dancer #4
- Summaiya Rehman as Noorie’s Mother/ Passerby #4
+ Minor Cast
- Ouwais Kidwai as Friend / Passerby #2 / Dancer #3
- N/A as Narrator #2 (Beginning & Ending)
- Aqib Yasbaig as Police Officer / Dancer #5
- Gulv Merley as Police Officer / Dancer #6
- Niaman Hassani as Police Officer / Dancer #7
- Litle Wayne as Police Officer / Dancer #8
It revolves around twin boys (Mussa and Essa) who are separated at birth and brought up in completely different environments in the city.
+ High Points
i – I really do not know how to praise Faraz Ali. Any praises given to him would be considered short and incomplete. As an actor, he goes deep in his character to play the role through their eyes. He is awesome on every level of his acting craft. Honestly, I see Faraz as high contender to our industry whether it is theatre, TV or film. His terrific performance as Mussa have made many people to wonder, why they have never heard his name before? Why they have never seen him on mainstream projects? I (with many people), strongly believe that he should approach TV and film industry where he would be more appreciated and highlighted by the mass audience… not just in Pakistan but all over the globe. Ladies and gentlemen, I introduce you Faraz Ali as the ‘Shining Star’.
ii – As for Kanwal Khan’s performance for her role as Noorie, the word is ‘Wow’! It is difficult to believe that this is her debut play. For a girl of her talent, she can do wonders for upcoming projects.
iii – The very first performance I have watched of Umer Naru was his comic role for few episodes in the TV series, ‘Pyray Afzal’ (2013) as Mehtab. Here, he plays the second brother of rich lifestyle as Essa. Since his character was less demanding, Umer still able to do a convincing job as educated, cool minded brother from respectable background. Other than his acting skills, it has came as a surprise for many that he is an actual singer with a very good voice and wrote his own songs. Impressive, I must say. Other Honorable Mentions: Rest of the cast.
iv – Superb direction by respected Shah Sharahbeel. The love triangle chemistry, scenes swift changes during songs sequences and adulthood scenes were very well directed. This is my first play that I have watched of Shah Sharahbeel. And I can assure you that I am overwhelmed and eager to watch more of his upcoming directorial plays.
v – Rehan Nazim has done a wonderful job as the narrator. Not only he was instructed to face the audience for them to have the emotional link with the main characters present on-stage but make them feel the pain, the struggle that the characters were feeling through the effective handling of his narration.
vi – Although, the play was around 135 minutes long. But I can assure you that not even once did I glance over my wrist watch to see the time. The play was so interesting that it made the audience’s minds and hearts connected to it.
vii – The dance choreography in all the songs and by the professional dancers was excellent! A huge round of applause for the BTS team.
viii – It is very rare to see the usage of projection design as this play did. Some people may call it visual presentation also, though it differs from it. ‘Shehr-e-Afsoos’ (2018), directed by late Madeeha Gauhar is a good example who used this technique stunningly in her play.
ix – There were other performances such as by Ifrah Khalid who made a very bold and good choice for playing biological mother. She is young, energetic actress. If she wanted, Ifrah could had played the lead role as Noorie remarkably too. But I am still pleased to see that she is making right choices early in her career for her to grow up to become a strong performer.
‘Rehearsal’ (2018) was the play directed by Syed Meesam Naqvi where Faiza Mehmood played the lead role. Her performances in both the plays have been solid.
I am very happy to see that Mohammad Abdul Ghani has able to improvise his negative character to a much better and brighter result.
x – High kudos to the songs sung by Umer Naru on his guitar, concert scene and Rehan Nazim’s singing after giving narration in almost every major scene that he appeared to.
xi – The combined efforts by the makeup & hair styling team with costumes designers have able to pull this off by showing the passage of time from childhood days to adulthood.
xii – Even though the production design was not detailed with props but it was innovative to change its different locations’ set easily.
+ Low Points
i – Personally, I don’t agree with this play’s treatment. It gave a strong similarity to Bollywood style films. Most of the Pakistani films nowadays are not making films similar to their neighbor’s commercial films anymore. Same way, I believe that we can and should have our own signature move on it… even if it’s a musical play.
ii – There were times where this play was over-dramatic. The writer should tone down a little bit to give more realistic feel to it. A popular example from the film world can be given here of the Tokyo Story (1953) which was copied / remake into Bollywood film, Baghban (2003). Even though, both of these two films are very compelling and touching to watch. But there are many scenes that were changed to be over-dramatic in Baghban. The writer of Tokyo Story could have done the same very easily, but he didn’t. He chose not to. And this is one of the main reasons why this film is considered as one of the best and listed in the Criterion collection. Yes, I do understand that our mass audience go for more emotional, dramatic scenes. But it is suggested only not to follow the such paths as the writer of Baghban did. Keep it real, more realistic to the actual world.
iii – For a comic relief character, try coming up with creative characteristics, good punch lines and interesting backstory. Having a homosexual character for a comic role is a serious ‘No-No’. Armoghan Bela did his level best to do justice to the character given to him. Hence, it is not his fault.
iv – There were some writing issues, where the script was weak especially the first act, of childhood scenes.
v – Due to his commitment of being a producer, Hammad Mehmood plays a small role of Essa’s father. For him to be in any play, the audience wants to see Hammad perform in a much interesting and bigger character. Make no mistake, Hammad Mehmood is ‘The Star’ of Stage Nomad Productions.
vi – Minor issues regarding its lighting such as where the narrator is facing the audience and he is not given / delayed a spotlight for audience to see him clearly; as he is the center of focus for that moment.
Twins Apart happens to be a highly entertaining play which Stage Nomad Productions have ever produced!
Rate: 4.25 out of 5 stars