Short + Sweet = Quantity – Quality this year, few of the 29 ten-minute plays leaving an impact, lacking writing skills or theatrical sense or both. The only original vision appeared in Who Knows What’s If It, a speechless performance devised by the actors, each in stylized, symbolical roles, all covered in muddy-grey makeup, arraying themselves into a men vs women battle. At least director Naireet Basak made us think. Another dozen merit mention here.

I rate groups who scripted their works above those who used available literature. Mahadevi Birla World Academy’s Get Ready to Play, which all Kolkatans should see, debated the development of the East Kolkata Wetlands, but had a major factual inaccuracy. Aamir Anjum’s Waiting dealt with death almost existentially, though disjointedly. Malancha Ayan’s Dāini exposed the branding of a woman as a witch, but fell into gross melodrama. Varsha Sheth’s Padmāvati revealed the travails of third-gender job applicants.

Tried-and-tested texts hold advantages, as with Purva Grover’s Between Us, Mother and Daughter on sexual abuse: the team had already floored Dubai audiences. Shilpabhumi took the iconic Sadako from post-Hiroshima Japanese history; unfortunately, they tossed origami cranes in the air that dropped like stones on stage. Revolution dramatized Gulzar’s ironic story Dhuān about a Muslim who wanted cremation after death, but the production needed polish. Indudipa Sinha had Pracheta Gupta’s Ekti Sahaj Khuner Galpa enacted well, but overlooked the implausibilities.

Two cute entries showcased children. Rashmi Kotriwala directed daughter Kripa in Pete Malicki’s Screams and Whispers, again proving the benefits of an existing Short + Sweet script. Kripa effortlessly soloed a girl who understands the language of animals. Anubhav’s The Saviour cast kids as adults in a parable about a boy satisfying his father’s IQ test.

Monologues obviously fit the bill; two shook us with grim themes despite some shrillness. Priya Saha Roy’s Bhitu treated the same subject as Between Us with equal intensity and horror. Navjot Singh’s Kanoon questioned justice when a convict is declared innocent after many years.

(From The Telegraph, 19 August 2017)