TUMI THIK, JADI BHABO TUMI THIK | TABE TAI

Tumi Thik, Jadi Bhābo Tumi Thik

Group: Pancham Vaidic

Adapter-director: Arpita Ghosh

Recommended: ★★★★

 

Tabe Tāi

Group: Hypokrites

Adapter: Pratik Dutta

Director: Susnato Bhattacherjee

Review:

The metatheatrical genius of Pirandello has attracted Bengali groups recently: I can count half a dozen productions of his life and work currently running in Kolkata (just search for him in the box on the right!). To top it, you can compare two adaptations into our society of his relatively lesser-known play from 1917, So It Is (If You Think So), translated previously as It Is So! (If You Think So) and Right You Are (If You Think You Are), which serves as a prototype for his later classics on truth and illusion like Six Characters in Search of an Author and Henry IV, both viewable in Bengali.

In it, nosey-parker neighbours grow intrusively inquisitive about a secretive family who have moved in lately, whose personal life sparks scandalous gossip. In front of them, the three newcomers accuse one another of madness. Each Act ends with a mocking laugh after the newest supposed shocker: “And the truth?” (Act 1); “And so we learn the truth!” (2); “And there you have the truth! Are you satisfied?” (3). Pirandello asks us to question bourgeois attitudes to morality and the inscrutability of reality as well as sanity. For such drama where linguistic subtleties become significant, rather than depending on one translator, I advise closer reading and collation of the various translations, especially the latest—in this case, So It Is by Mark Musa—to arrive at the final performance script.

Pancham Vaidic’s Tumi Thik, Jadi Bhābo Tumi Thik makes an instant visual impact with Sanchayan Ghosh’s geometrical but lopsided skeleton of a set that symbolizes the unstable natures of the characters and social speculations. Adapter-director Arpita Ghosh gets her cast to negotiate the steps up and down the varying platforms with more meaningfulness than her previous experiment with multiple levels in Tagore’s Ghare Bāire.

The family that holds the centre of attention (photo) receives a study in contrast from Senjuti Mukhopadhyay (a convincingly sympathetic mother-in-law) and Buddhadev Das (a progressively frustrated son-in-law), joined by Rita Mondal (his mysterious wife) at the conclusion. Among the onlookers, Debesh Chattopadhyay (acting once again after a long break) and Arpita maintain an understated detachment in the brother-sister duo who start the proceedings, thereby undercutting the melodramatic elements always present in Pirandello.

 

Hypokrites’ Tabe Tāi, written by Pratik Dutta, compresses the original more than Tumi Thik does, losing some depth in the process, particularly when combining Acts 2 and 3 into the second half. However, director Susnato Bhattacherjee scores with his costume design in shades of grey and in editing Act 1 filmically, placing the scenes with mother-in-law and son-in-law alternately on stages left and right. But he does not have the daughter wear a veil, as Pirandello instructed—highly dramatic when she finally appears—and makes her boldly name herself, instead of just “daughter” and “wife”. A visibly young Avery Singha Roy does the best she can as the mother-in-law, who surely demands a more experienced actress.

Any takers for Pirandello’s Each in His Own Way and Tonight We Improvise?