When a dumb wife becomes talkative...
Golu Birinda, the Sinhalese adaptation of French playwright Anatole
France's (1844-1924) `The man who married a dumb wife' was recently
staged at Namel-Malani Punchi Theatre at Borella. The play was adapted
by Prof. Wimal Dissanayake, as a first year student at the University of
The drama was staged preceded by the launch of the text of the play
together with the texts of two other plays by Namel Weeramuni, Willieta
Wilirudawa Hedila and Kolamba Hate Nona Ekka. The book was published by
Sarasavi Publishers and authored by Prof. Wimal Dissanayake and Namel
The drama is woven around Ranhamie, a villager in a remote hamlet and
his predicament of marrying a dumb wife. After a long time being a
bachelor, Ranhamie marries the dumb woman. Though, the villagers thought
it to be a mishap, Ranhamie explains to his friend Tikira who visits him
after a long time specifically to see Ranhamie's newly wedded wife, that
the marriage was a well-contemplated decision. However, subsequently
dumb wife is cured by the village exorcist. Then onwards, the wife
starts to talk incessantly ultimately becoming an absolute nuisance to
Ranhamie. It becomes unbearable compelling Ranhamie to seek the
assistance of the exorcist to make himself deaf. The drama ends with the
enraged wife attacking Ranhamie, Tikira and the exorcist.
Golu Birinda is a master Sinhalese adaptation which bears not even a
trace of a foreign drama. The audience understands the play as authentic
Sri Lankan creation set against a rustic village, perhaps, in the tail
end of the nineteenth century. Prof. Wimal Dissanayake has used down to
earth diction with rich folk idiom to render it an authentic Sri Lankan
"Ranhamie; Tikira, I thought, at first, marrying a dumb wife is
advantageous on all accounts. Otherwise if 4 this wife tries to put her
finger in everything, it would really be a nuisance. I know what
happened to my uncle. Aunty scolded him incessantly throughout the day
from dawn to dusk. If there was any mistake aunty becomes a she-devil.
Uncle died prematurely because of aunt's foul mouth"
However, after curing the wife of her dumbness, she becomes a
nuisance compelling Ranhamie to make him deaf. Wife's foul mouth and
talkativeness has been aptly adapted into Sinhala with the use of
"Wife: Palayalla, Palayalla, Duwala Yanna Metanin... nodakin vitharak
mevage hathikarayak, anei..., anei..., pambayek meeta vediya hondai"
(get out, run away, oh what a wretched lot... a dummy is better than
Malini Weeramuni as the Ramhamie's dumb wife and Namel Weeramuni as
Ranhamie have able to portray the characters convincingly with authentic
features of a village couple. Malini has also played dumb wife's role,
at first, with appropriate gesticulations to suggest that she is dumb.
As a whole, their acting is natural and created the intended zest of
the play which is humour at Ranhamie's predicament. The roles of Tikira
and exorcist are also natural in their portrayal and contributed to the
success of the play. The credit for the master adaptation will go to
Prof. Wimal Dissanayake while Namel, Malini and the cast should be
commended for infusing life into it. Golu Birinda will remain as an
example of adaption of drama into Sinhala.
Golu Birinda is marked for its ingenious use of colloquial Sinhala
idiom and master adaptation. It is amazing in a way that a drama by
celebrated French playwright Anatole France set against the middle class
in France, has been converted into a Sinhala drama of lasting value.
Perhaps, the forte of the playwright is not only the ability to adapt
the play into Sinhala with marked indigenous distinction but also to
change the milieu from middle class to rustic Sri Lankan village to make
it truly a Sri Lankan experience.
By no way one can describe Golu Birinda as an adaptation with its
distinct indigenous features enriched with colloquial Sinhala idiom
sparingly used in its dialogues. It is an adaptation par excellence.