15 June 2016

The Surrealists : An Absorbing Misnomer

The Surrealists

 From the house of: The Nautanki Company

 Written and Directed by: Tejodipto Panda

 I would like to start with how the director has been smart to name the play “The Surrealists” but not mention its genre anywhere. It wasn’t mentioned during the pre production promotions or by the emcee before the play began. A smart move indeed, because that controversy can be avoided this time, unlike Mind Duck where it was clearly mentioned by the Director that it was a “theatre of the absurd”, and it was evidently not so. The audience gave mixed reviews after the show. Some said Bravo to the amount of controversial terms and matters discussed courageously while others said “it did not work for me”. And as a reviewer, that confused me even more. I am not a seasoned reviewer yet, maybe that is the reason behind the confusion. Also, if you’re looking for the plot of the play, let me remind you that I am not summarizing It for you, I am going to review it.

Personally, the play worked for me in some places and in some places it didn’t. Suramya Pushan Dasgupta and Tejodipto Panda’s chemistry was delightful on stage (already waiting for Carcinogen to be staged in July for the very same reason). The whole cast of the Tughlaq boomed on stage. Reference to a real incident of Einstein visiting a city in Bengal and not getting an audience needs to be applauded. Be it Pradipta De, Nirvan Chaudhury or Rahamat Ali or the rest – the chemistry of the court was mind blowing. But someone who unexpectedly shocked everyone in the audience was Sayantani Mukhopadhyay. And I am not talking about the correct grammar, I am talking about her powerful stage presence. From mellow to stormy – she portrayed it all. Jeshika Kedia’s portrayal of Sarah Fatima and her imitation of Little Comrade Sarah’s diction on stage was, as we put it these days, ‘on point’.

However, it felt terrible when her fellow comrade lost her voice onstage leading to loss of coordination during the slogans. The magic of the moment was stolen by that one unplanned mishap. However, it can be forgiven. Also, I must harp on the fact that the entire plotline appeared to be very disorganized at times, and certain sub-plots seemed absolutely out of place. Certain humorous plot-twists and punchlines seemed farcical and slapstick, but on the whole, the entire play did evoke a certain amount of laughter. The wonderful usage of spot lighting must be mentioned and the burst of light while exposing the real story behind Rohith Vemula’s institutional murder and the satirical rap poetry in voiceover worked wonders. Accidentally, the play moved along the lines of Third Theatre more than any other genre, which was more or less, a bit scruffy.

The reviewer only hopes that if and when The Surrealists is restaged, The Nautanki Company would sort the scenes out and play around a little more with the storyline to connect the plots – owing to the genre not being mentioned specifically as Surrealism. And if at all it is meant to be a Surreal play, one must delete the magic realism involved in the plot.

Event reported by :- Priyadarshini Mukherjee.

Pictures by :-   Syzygy Productions
                        Calcutta Cacophony

                        Sourya Chakraborty.

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