Kiritir Notebook – An ill-prepared play

Posted by Kaahon Desk On June 7, 2019

We have a predetermined conception that good texts never fail to impress the audience. Not that it is very wrong to think so. But there are numerous good texts, which are hugely dependent on the performance. Especially psychological plays, thrillers, and absurdist plays. These plays require the audience to succumb into them, and they are not merely comprehensible to the passive audience, or they can be said to act like the doors to the inner sanctum of your house. Like we open the door so that the guest can come inside, in these plays the acting acts as the door for the audience to enter the nuances of these plays. The guest would not be roofless if you hadn’t opened the inner door, but it served him to discover your house.

Seagull by Anton Chekov is one of the most globally appreciated plays. It has been staged in different languages in different eras, one of the most important among them is Tennessee William’s adaptation ‘Notebook of Trigorin’ which was recently staged by Ganakrishti group. They have named it ‘Kiritir Notebook’ it has been adapted by Shri Ujwal Chattopadhyay and directed by Shri Amitabh Dutta.

Previous Kaahon Theatre Review:

(But there remains a serious complaint. Isn’t it a little absurd recognizing Chekov as the inspiration anddesignating the play as Ujwal Chakraborty’s one,especially when there wasn’t much reshuffling of scenes or the plot involved? What’s wrong with the term translation or adaptation? Tennessee Williams has always categorized her one as an adaptation.)

There’s a story obviously, which needs no revealingso that I can motivate you to watch the play. What else can I say then? Let us start with the title. Kiriti is a writer who always carries a notebook. He records everything in it, good or bad. Okay. When the character has been introduced this way, let us talk about characters first. Kiriti has a famous wife who’s an actress. She has a boy named Suman, but Kiriti is not his biological father. Suman is an upcoming experimental theatre director. His favourite actress is Jari, and Jari likes Kiriti Babu a lot. Jari loves Suman, but so does Madhu. Suman and Madhu live in the same building. But Suman doesn’t live in his house; he lives in his native village. His mother’s brother-in-law is in charge of the house, a brother-in-law who is not formally married to his mother’s sister, as the grapevines suggest this brother-in-law of his mother’s can very well be Suman’s actual father. (I have succeeded in depicting the characters without revealing the plot. Not bad.)

P.S.-In the middle of the play Suman shoots a swan in the farmhouse; that was supposed to be of important significance.

The plot is a little messy, isn’t it? Something more is required than the plot line while staging such a complex play (that’s why I had to mention them in the beginning). In the original play a lot was left hidden under the layers, which could evoke our hope, love, desire, and longings, which could help us re-invent ourselves, which could lure us inside the sub-sternum of the play, that something which keeps this play written in 1895 relevant, even after 124 years. But nothing of that sort was present in Kiritir Notebook. The characters, their mutual and psychological complications, desires, loathing, frustrations, likings, obsessions, and the change of equation…more sensitivity in writing, and, more balance in dialogue construction was required for a better presentation. It is disappointing to experience this level of work from a veteran play-writer like Ujwal Chattopadhyay, none of the dialogues are penetrative enough. The few good dialogues that were present in the play were rendered useless by clueless acting. None of the actors succeeded in transforming into their characters. In a nutshell, it was impossible to penetrate into the inside of the story. Although the plot was clear but the play was a complete haze.

Why was a veteran actor like Subhashis Mukhopadhyay casted for Kiriti’s role which stays on stage for so short span of time? The character was supplemented with ill-written dialogues, immature situations, and unpolished actors. This debacle was completely beyond our imagination.

Bansh Keno Jhare – Over-dramatic old-school light but no-pretension entertainment

How long can Bengali Theatre continue like that? Where is it heading to? All of them are matured, cultured, and intelligent mentors. But they don’t seem to have any responsibility. Manoj Prasad has arranged the lighting, Gautam Ghosh has composed the music, Tapash Neel and Sabarendu Sen have decorated the set. These elements are not supposed to be mentioned in a single line, they are no less important while constructing a play; on the contrary they solidify into a character or a door when used properly in good plays. But the writer, director, and the actors have transmitted their carelessness in these elements too. Or maybe they weren’t directed properly, maybe they wanted to do a better job, but weren’t encouraged. Or maybe…I don’t know.

These doors are the benchmarks of a good play. Those doors should be present in any good artistic work. They are also present in the Bengali theatre, but whether to throw the audience out or to invite them cordially, that is the question.

N.B. It is possible that the reviewer is a donkey! Who can say! Go watch the play, and take others with you. And let us know if you feel the same.


Ebong Ipsita
A Kolkata based theatre practitioner, she has been doing theatre from 2005 and now she is co-directing and adapting plays for different theatre groups in Bengal. She believes to explore the web medium as well to express herself to the world.

Translation- Harit Choudhury

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