Rani Creusa – Rani Creusa after Medea, Greek myths in Bengali theatre

Posted by Kaahon Desk On March 7, 2020

The name Creusa has often been found in several Greek epics/mythology at various points in time. Creusa of Athens is a unique one among all of them. Euripides had written the play ‘Ion’ revolving around Creusa of Athens. Bratya Basu too has composed his original play ‘Rani Creusa’ revolving around the same. Not much similarity is there between Basu’s text and Euripides’ text or the Creusa myth. *

The recent performance of the play happened on 29th February 2020 at Panihati Lok Sanskriti Bhavan.

Previous Kaahon Theatre Review:

The context of the Chetana theatre group’s latest production ‘Rani Creusa’ directed by Sujan Mukhopadhyay is quite contemporary and the story of the eponymous character has been used to depict the picture of the present day socio-political turmoil. It becomes very clear in the play that religion, the Almighty, politics, shrewd politics, and obviously State politics have been overlapped with each other. And according to his/her own convenience and opportunity, each individual is trying to manipulate these elements in order to obtain or exhibit his/her power in this big game. All those words about the power of love are pure non-sense. The power of hatred is much stronger because humans have now become devoid of any compassion.

In the beginning, we see that Queen Creusa has already challenged the extremely patriarchal divine structure. The God, Apollo is constantly seen manipulating, according to his will and need, the State, the King, the successor of power, etc. Creusa refuses to be agitated repeatedly only due to the force of his will. Whether it’s for the better or for the worse, she’s reluctant to be a constant puppet in the hands of the Gods (the system). By saying that ‘Electra’ was being performed in the nation, the playwright hints upon the creation of an ambience of raising a voice of revolt against the system just like in today’s time. Creusa with her tidbit of atheism stands against the system (the Gods), even after knowing that it’s infallible, the most powerful and omnipresent. While doing this, she’s compelled to perform such a task that’d be seen as an unforgivable crime in the ancient society. Today that incident wouldn’t probably be seen as a huge crime as such but the system can mark anything as a crime according to its own convenience at any time, isn’t it so?

The crime won’t be revealed now nor will be the plot of the play (do watch the next show). But Creusa with her loud steps in defying the Gods leaves the common people confused as usual and the administration in a sense of jeopardy. The judiciary begins the case and pulls forward a long farce in the name of justice. The common people are embarrassed and frightened more than they’re distressed. The system, by having faith in which the people created their basic security and an idea of the purpose of life, has entered their unconscious. They don’t know what they’ll do if that very system becomes unstable. This fear weakens their power to think. Just a little manipulation is needed to shift from one subject to a completely different one. Just like the present day, isn’t it? Thus, this play helps to think about democracy and the role of the people living in this democracy. It also helps us to identify the lack of logic in the name of democracy and convenience of power in the guise of a web of rules and laws. Like an existentialist play, this production has tried to make the common people in the audience feel as helpless. This conflict has been beautifully shown by the playwright in a courtroom scene. In this scene, Glaucus and Aegyptus engage in an excellent logical-illogical conversation. The character of Glaucus has been played by Supriyo Dutta. He’s present in only one scene and yet has been undeniably the best in the whole play.

This scene has been written with such concentration that one might think that this particular scene was intensively thought of by the playwright even before the entire play. And then the rest of the plot has been written to compose the play. To be honest, the binding of the rest of the scenes aren’t as firm. Some of the scenes seem to be added unnecessarily because the same question is being asked at several points from various perspectives. Especially in the last scene, the conflict was very clear to the audience even without the inclusion of ‘Karna Kunti Sangbad’ and it reminded them of the latter. Had it been conveyed indirectly, the moment would’ve probably been much deeper. Even in the play ‘Mir Jafar’, the playwright had used many such contemporary allusions. Is this a direct attempt to make the play a contemporary one? Or is it an attempt to reiterate the same theme repeatedly through different ways of communication? The dialogues of the supernatural elements are quite complex and not in tune with the rest of the dialogues. Even if these parts were omitted, there wouldn’t be much of a problem in presenting the complexities and fallacies of the time and philosophy of life. The constant pointing out of these elements destroys the speed and fineness of the play. Try having faith in the audience for once!

Garal- A socially responsible group theatreSince there were several shades to the character of Creusa, expectations were high from Nivedita Mukhopadhyay. Rishav Basu in the character of Aion has tried to bring in a gush of fresh air. All the other actors have performed well but the playwright didn’t seem to work on all the characters equally. After quite a long time, perfect use of music could be seen in this production; limited but necessary. Such fine work has been done by Prabuddha Bandyopadhyay and the execution by Anindya Nandi. Since it’s not possible to lengthen the review, so to club everything together – the use of the rest of the elements is fine but could’ve been more fitting.

The play had all the elements of becoming an excellent contemporary theatrical production but by the end, it seemed too direct due to the lack of a sense of concluding. Please don’t judge a play by its review! Watch the play and let us know if your view matches with our understanding of the production. In conclusion, I’d like to say that we expect a lot from the preachers and the experienced. We want to learn from them and then unlearn everything and try to move forward. Hopefully, they’ll keep this responsibility of theirs in mind.

*In this context I’d like to say that Bengali theatre is staging ‘Medea’, another myth from the Greek epics, the text of which has been heavily edited from that of Euripides’ original play but the former isn’t that enjoyable after all. (Kaahon review – Medea)

This review has been done on the basis of the show staged on 22nd November 2019.

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: Kankabati Banerjee

Read this review in Bengali.

বাংলাতে পড়তে ক্লিক করুন।

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