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Golu Birinda:

When a dumb wife becomes talkative...



Namel Malani

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 Peradeniya.

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 Weeramuni.

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 flavour.

"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 colloquial idiom.

"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 this man).

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.

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