Seasons of Love

Group: The Red Curtain

Dramatist: Ahon Gooptu

Director: Katy Lai Roy











Shakespeare in Venice

Group: Bohubrihi

Script and direction: Ashoke Viswanathan


English theatre, too, tinged bilingually with Bengali, tiptoes back on stage with a couple of hour-long productions at Padatik, both of which genuflect to—no surprise in the case of English—the Bard of Avon.

The Red Curtain’s Seasons of Love, “a play in development” by Ahon Gooptu, emerged from the author’s sense of loss at his grandmother’s death. Among other things, she instilled in him a love of Shakespeare; an early scene conveys this touchingly, when she invokes Durga’s advent with Romeo’s lines seeing Juliet on the balcony. Equally strong, she deplores the degeneration in popular Puja festivities. After she dies, however, the script moves into personal catharsis, incorporating too much tears and agony for public display. It reminded me of Makarand Deshpande’s Ma in Transit, which in turn recalled Mahesh Elkunchwar’s Wāsansi Jirnāni and Satish Alekar’s Mahānirvān—all respected Marathi playwrights dramatizing a family member’s passing with varying results. One must cultivate objectivity to create art out of subjective grief. What I wrote for Ma in Transit applies here: it “seems more self-preoccupied, as he tries to simultaneously get the sorrow off his chest and understand the rituals that help him to release the mortal ties.”

Director Katy Lai Roy deserves applause for reviving Padatik Little Theatre 1, but its greater intimacy means that emotions demand toning down. A “calm of mind, all passion spent” approach would gather deeper dividends, particularly for Akhshaye Lohia as the grandson. Both Munni Chowdhury (grandmother) and Baisali Chatterjee Dutt (mother) need a more developed text to layer their characterizations, though Chowdhury achieves some success in depicting the personality shifts in a dementia patient.


Bohubrihi’s Shakespeare in Venice (nothing to do with the book or film of the same name), a monologue by Ashoke Viswanathan, comes closer to a lec-dem on The Merchant of Venice. Since I am Viswanathan’s dada, any praise by me will be construed as nepotism (more strictly, bro-potism), so I shall only criticize. He adopts teacher mode in educating viewers about Shakespearean drama, some of it wrong (as I have told him and believe he has emended, Shakespeare did not adhere to Aristotelian precepts, while the idea of five acts came from Seneca). He explains iambic pentameter too mechanically; of course it has a mathematical base, but Shakespeare didn’t compose every line in ten syllables, and the non-iambic variations make the words richer in interpretive possibilities. And as auto-director, he should pay careful attention to his own costume: a misfitting hat and an untucked shirt look too casual for theatre.