This is a caper of a dangerous kind. Rogues and wastrels get together and rob a bank only to discover the whole exercise may have been a set-up. Now huddled away from the eyes of the police, suspicion begins to rip at the strangers’ bonds – who’s the rat in their midst?
‘Reservoir Dogs’, a 1992 movie by Quentin Tarantino, is getting a retelling at The Junction this week – and it’s a whodunit of a different type. “'Reservoir Dogs' has always been one of those raw high octane stories that I have felt could be moulded into an exciting theatrical experience. I feel it opens up a whole new genre to be explored on stage - an action packed crime caper laced with dark humor,” says director Satyen Chandiramani.
The story has been around for a while. In fact even Tarantino admitted that he’d been “inspired” by a book – ‘The Killing’ – when he wrote the screenplay. The thing about a classic though, is it’s a tried-and-tested formula that you are now messing with. Chandiramani explains: “When you recreate a cult classic, you have to tread very carefully because you don't want to dilute its intensity - however, when you adapt it to stage you have to make sure that each scene must have something different, something entertaining for the audience. I have tried to recreate certain moments with a different execution in order to keep the story crisp and moving at a good pace.
A way to tell the story
“Moving in and out of flashbacks, doing scenes within scenes and intercutting multiples scenes into one were some techniques that I employed here. Add to this the role of music to energize and add dimensions to the scene. So I hope it works for the audience!”
But the lure of the power of the story and the agency of its performers is unquestionable, explains the director, recalling an anecdote at rehearsals that sealed the deal for him. “I was sitting on the stairs watching a scene being rehearsed between 2 of the cast and their intensity level was so high that I literally crawled down the stairs slowly and steadily with each dialogue and was eventually sitting on the floor right at their feet to gauge their expressions and they just kept going at it ! Undeterred!” he explains.
The moment came months after the first dialogue was spoken and the first scene was set. There is afterall a pandemic on and it has exacted its toll. “We started our work on this play 3 months ago with socially distanced readings, individual character build up discussions and rehearsing scenes that did not need too many people close to each other. Slowly and steadily with our masks on always, sanitizers close at hand, we locked scenes which had no contact if not required. The cast was in more like what is now known as a bio bubble - we have managed to complete the entire play,” he says.
Actor Bryan MacKenzie, who calls his role that of a ruthless thug, says his lesson from the play was one of trust. “Strangely enough what I learned was the demand in a production like this to actually trust everybody that you’re working with as completely as possible. To make it a great success we are untrustworthy on the front that we present to the audience, but we have to absolutely trust one another internally,” he explains.
Six personalities whose real identities are unknown to each other collide for a heist and now they must collaborate to get away. Fictional bloodbath or a searing portrayal of human nature? Either way, it’ll have you at the edge of your seat and wondering what comes next.
Don’t miss it!
‘Reservoir Dogs’ runs from November 18-21 at The Junction in Alserkal Avenue. Tickets for the 7.30pm shows start at Dh80.