national Arts Festival Banner

Friday, September 4, 2015


(Pranesh Maharj as Balram. Pic by Ashok Dhaneshwar)

Polart Productions’ acclaimed one-hander God Gave Me This Life, written and directed by Vivian Moodley and starring Pranesh Maharaj, returns by popular demand to the Durban stage next week. Following sold-out runs when it was done in Hindi as Bhagwan Gave Me This Life, the play will next be performed in English at the Catalina Theatre from September 10 to 13.

A mere old tin box contains the treasures of an emaciated man’s life. He picks from it and recounts the journey that was served onto him. He had very limited choices in what life had to offer and it dealt him bad hands until now. Balram is an engaging man who puts duty before himself. He is funny, sensual, entertaining and emotional. The tattered setting is reminiscent of a once bustling area that has become scarcely populated leaving him in a cold and lonely environment.

He recollects, with much jest; his family, the neighbours, the extended family, his in-laws, his engagement, his marriage, his child, his parents and even the in-laws’ dog. These recollections are tied up with a flimsy thread called Love. The fragility of love is what drives most people and it is what breaks most people.  How or what do we do to take care of it so that it doesn’t break or break us? There is no real answer.

Balram was also a musician and had a great fondness for music and the arts. He would sing and play instruments. His wife was a dancer. Like most musicians, his passion is slowly killed with the realisation that he was not as admired for his skills as he would have hoped to be. Occupied with the trudges of daily life, he finds himself in a dilemma; but trudges on. That is the master of all anticipations: Hope. Then tragedy upon tragedy start to reveal that all before him had been lies multiplied by lies. That he had been a pawn in a treacherous game when the Bard’s most famous question comes to mind; “To be or not to be?” The human condition is a compilation of conflicting emotions and ideals. A broken man is left with very less dilemma in the end. Maybe the only contemplation will be ‘what type of noose?’

God Gave Me This Life runs from September 10 to 13 at Catalina Theatre, Wilson’s Wharf. Performances take place on September 10 at 19h00; September 11 at 20h00 and September 12 and 13 at 14h00 and 18h00. Ticket prices R120 with various discounts. Booking is at Computicket and all Shoprite Checkers outlets.