Group: Spandan People’s Theatre

Dramatist: Mohit Chattopadhyaya

Director: Samudra Guha


Mrityur Mārpyānch

Group: Khardaha Theatre Zone

Dramatist: Salil Sarkar

Director: Tapan Das



Group: Black Curtain Theatre

Dramatist: Shakespeare

Director: Aman Jaiswal


The five-day annual Intimate Theatre Festival hosted by and at Proscenium’s Art Centre produced some intriguing political commentary. Of the two longer works, about an hour each, Spandan People’s Theatre’s interpretation of Mohit Chattopadhyaya’s Barna-biparjay virtually served as an unstated tribute on the fiftieth anniversary of that one-act play. It revels in the author’s topsy-turviness (or metathesis, the literary meaning of its title), as a cross-section of city dwellers gravitate around a lamppost on a busy street, individually and collectively demonstrating the absurdities of urban life. Director Samudra Guha hangs a huge Nazi swastika on the back wall, giving the action an ominous dimension. The characters and costumes have an eccentric and energized appeal, but the lengthy dance intro adds nothing.

Khardaha Theatre Zone presented Salil Sarkar’s Mrityur Mārpyānch, in which an impoverished farmer couple come to a forest, pushed to commit suicide by a local leader who wants to grab most of their land for his gain. Yama’s messenger arrives to claim their bodies for his lord, and finding that they still haven’t died, pressures them to do so quickly so that he can meet his corpse-collecting quota. But they continue squabbling, some of their dialogue straight out of Beckett’s Godot where Didi and Gogo disagree on how to hang themselves from a tree. Tapan Das directs with a comic flair that we normally don’t see in his productions, best manifested by Suparna and Apurba as the wife and husband respectively.

Black Curtain Theatre’s capsule 30-minute Hindi Macbeth merits attention not only because it may be the shortest Indian version of Shakespeare’s tragedy, but because their home base above a steep, narrow staircase at 21 Lenin Sarani must be the smallest theatre I have ever entered. In a 10 ft x 12 ft room, the performance space occupies 4 ft by 8 ft, within which the very young team of three women and three men even enact battles without bumping into one another. Director Aman Jaiswal deserves praise for blocking this choreography flawlessly, and for adopting a Badal Sircar style of neutral black garb, voices creating all sound effects, and no theatrical lighting. He does shortchange Lady Macbeth’s role, which he can rectify very easily by inserting one-minute passages of her goading Macbeth, participating in the murders, planting the bloody daggers and losing her sanity.