Broadway blockbusters that ran for over 1000 shows half a century ago staged a comeback in local hands recently. However, the fact that popularity has no bearing on lasting relevance proved itself in the appeal of one production and the ho-hum response generated by the other.

John Patrick dramatized The Teahouse of the August Moon in 1953, breezily satirizing the “civilizing” mission of American forces occupying Okinawa after World War II. The army officer with that brief becomes thoroughly acculturated to native customs instead, much to the horror of his superiors (and no doubt President Trump now – hence it still works). Stagecraft had a success with it in 1995, and revived it for their praiseworthy ongoing collaboration with the Directorate of Correctional Services, West Bengal.

Inmates of the Alipore correctional homes performed creditably in English under the joint direction of Krishna Ray and Nandini Banerjee, who picked up the late Rohit Pombra’s project left incomplete by his premature death. They even followed his challenging precedent of using Japanese wherever possible. One must single out Kunal Mazumdar and Biplab Das as the Captain and his interpreter respectively, and Alpana Sen as Lotus Blossom, the gentle geisha. But everyone contributed to a team effort, creating colourful props and costumes themselves.

Proscenium’s Tum Bin …! Indianizes Jean Kerr’s romantic comedy Mary, Mary (1961), adapted in Hindi by Bindu Jaiswal. But times have changed, divorce is not the big deal it was then – whether in the US or India – and the humour does not qualify as particularly novel any more. Inexplicably, though, Jaiswal changes Kerr’s newly divorced couple to a soon-to-be-divorced pair. Director Sheo Kumar Jhunjhunwala’s decision to keep the landline telephones of the original dates it even further from today. Surprisingly, the small cast does not seem to have any unifying concept grounding them, so that the individual acting fluctuates wildly, from realism to slapstick to soap opera, spoiling our aesthetic pleasure. Archana Malhotra tries but just cannot capture the heroine’s effervescent personality.

(From The Telegraph, 19 May 2018)