Kathakali night out.

After our day tour of old Cochin and my swim in the rain, it was time to go out again as we were going to the Kathakali performance. We left in the pouring rain but luckily Vaiju and the car were waiting for us. The Kathakali hall is down some narrow alleys and when we went in the make up application was already underway.
For the first hour we sat and watched the men apply their make up. No, we weren’t just early , this is the best part. One big chap lay down on the floor whilst and older man applied lots of green, black and white makeup to him. He also used quite a lot of glue and attached several carefully cut paper strips to him. Meanwhile another fellow sat there and applied his own orange make up. Then they swapped places and were joined by a third fellow who applied a more natural looking (well that’s what the blurb said)yellow make up to his face. It was all very fascinating but there was also quite a bit of prima Dona behaviour mainly from the make up applicator who seemed to think he was in charge and got very annoyed when his make up sponge wasn’t in the right spot.
After this some band members arrived and a man who was in charge of cymbals explained what was going to happen next. So we had a little demonstration of cymbals and drum playing followed by an excellent demo of one of the main aspects of Kathakali which is the use of the eyes and face to portray various emotions. This varied from the waggly eyebrow look which represented ‘love’ to the nasty smell under the nose look which represented ‘sarcasm’. All very good and fun.
Next up was the main performance and here we were in for a treat. The blurb said we’d be seeing a story from the Maharabat. This seemed to involve a peasant , a prince and a monster from the forest who was generally being annoying and needed to be killed. It was all very gripping although there was an awful lot of flouncing about in over sized skirts. I found it very off putting that the peasant bore a very close resemblance to Joseph in a kids nativity play back home. Complete with very poor beard and t cloths for a headdress.
The monster did quite a bit of growling and the prince flounced about stamping his feet and waving with his red truncheon whilst Joseph just sort of meowed at the back and stroked his beard. It all came to a climatic end when the Prince poked the monster in his stomach with the truncheon and then followed a Shakespearean death scene surpassing anything we’ve seen at the RSC.
Marvellous, the crowd rose as one in rupturous applause. Well maybe not quite…but we did get up and leave thinking it was time for dinner.
Tonight we’d decided to eat at the Old Harbour Hotel as Joyce and Enid had stayed here I think and Sam F had recommended it too. The meal was really good. I had a keralan chicken curry and Jane had Masala Fish and orange prawn and we shared a couple of Kingfisher beers. We were too chicken to walk the 200 years back to our hotel as it was very dark and a little bit scary so Vaiju had waited for us and drove us back to the hotel. Bless. All was well with the world.

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One thought on “Kathakali night out.

  1. Apologies for the delay in posting…..our homestays are having wifi and electrical issues!

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