Vengeance appears to preoccupy Debasish Ray, at least on the basis of the new productions he has directed for Anya Theatre and his own group Theatre Platform. He wrote Anya Theatre’s comic Revenge Factory himself, while he dramatized Theatre Platform’s noir Ekti Sahaj Khuner Galpa from Pracheta Gupta’s short story.
In the former, the love affair of a common young couple crashes after the girl’s abrupt walkout. The boy’s friend helps him out of depression, setting themselves up as a partnership called Revenge Factory, which carries out people’s retributive wishes for a fee. The agency flourishes, since humans long to pay back tormentors, and they become rich in no time. I cannot reveal the surprise reversal or resolution so as not to spoil the fun, but the play keeps the audience entertained. The core trio of Partha Sinha, Rayati Bhattacharya and Sumit act well in their deliberately ordinary parts, but Debasish resorts to considerable padding with an irrelevant sideshow of police ghosts all named Swapan and redundant choreography with balls and kites to convey happiness.
The sordid circumstances of Ekti Sahaj Khuner Galpa revolve round a girl who fancies her father’s favourite student, who rebuffs her advances as unbecoming of good character. She gets her own back in a complicated and nefarious way. This drama occupies a much tighter frame, with very different and distinctive performances from the cast of four: Rayati Bhattacharya as the truly devious femme fatale, Debasish himself as the basically timid object of her desires, Apurba Ghosh his complete opposite as a street youth she befriends, and Shaktibrata Sinha Roy as her father constantly demeaning her.
Debasish designs the set and picks the props meticulously and does some inventive things with diffuse laser lighting. He plans to move freely between proscenium and studio spaces, yet retains the wings of a conventional stage even in the small confines of the Tripti Mitra Sabhagriha. This defeats the power of intimate theatre – it would have greater impact if he makes the spectators uncomfortable, like voyeurs indoors with the mise-en-scene in the centre or all around them. At present, our discomfort occurs only because the actors smoke unnecessarily, as they also do in Revenge Factory.
(From The Times of India, 7 June 2019)