Prague Fringe 2013
The award winning City of Lions and Gods is set in India at the turn of the last century. A philosophical tale of forbidden love during those politically turbulent times.
The Muslim states of India are attempting to break away as the independent country of Pakistan and the British Raj are in the process of being ejected from India. Enter Mame, recounting a particularly disturbing dream…
Mame is a politically savvy woman interested in high minded things; she is poetic and curious unlike her sister Miri, a simpler, more timid creature who wrestles with her deep feelings of inadequacy where her suspiciously obsequious husband is concerned. Mame’s older husband Khan is a wealthy political leader and is essentially the beacon to whom the others reach to and react to.
This is principally Mame’s tale, in that she is the narrator at the opening and closing of the play, however each character is so well conceived that it is difficult to say who in fact the main character is. Each actor is given ample stage time to give sufficient credibility to their role; each role shining in it’s own unique way.
City of Lions and Gods has been condensed to fit the Fringe’s ‘hour only’ policy. The writers (the actors themselves) seem to have done a very good job of this as the result is well formed and clear. Nevertheless I do wish I could see the full version as I believe the four characters (and actors) were so strong that the one hour did not do justice to the emotional weight the play calls for.
It is hard to believe that the piece is not some abridged version of a classic Indian tale. The writing is solid and the sensitivity with which the actors perform their lines shows a beautiful (and understandable) faith in the work they have created.
This lovely play may have been more suited to one of the quieter venues on the fringe circuit. The noise pollution from the trams and the bar is of course minimal, but with such a gentle dramatic piece as City of Lions and God’s, it does deserve a space in which the audience is free to meditate on the numerous sublime aspects of this play. The audience’s response was all the same rapturous and warm.
It was a treat to watch such great performances from four terrifically intuitive actors, not to mention four fine authors. Go and see it, this may be one of the most mature, intelligent original pieces of the festival.