Sept 22, 2011 (Calcutta Tube / IBNS): Lal Baksho is a Bengali play directed by Sohag Sen, presented by Ensemble with Madhuchhanda Ghosh, Swapan Barna, Kaushik Bose, Sandip Bose and others in the cast. Read the play review at Calcutta Tube.
Sohag Sen`s Lal Baksho is a lesson to all, including theatre workers also
‘Lal Baksho’ (The Red Box) is a play on terrorism and how it fractures the fabric of civil society. The play comprises five independent episodes. The common features in all the episodes is a red box. The box changes shape, size and nature but it is the leitmotif. It is the object of terror. The play is treated with wit, humor and tragedy. “Lal Baksho” deals with everyday life of
(b) middle aged lovers,
(c) co-passengers in a train compartment,
(d) a family in an apartment, and lastly
(e) the crew and actors of a mega- serial of a TV channel.
Ensemble, Kolkata in its 28th years of existence is famous for experimenting with theatrical forms. It has come up with plays on unique issues, viz. awareness of AIDS, the journey of theatre and travails of theatre groups, condition of hired helps in the contemporary times, to name a few. These subjects have evolved through theatre workshop.
‘This play ‘Lal Baksho` is also an outcome of a theatre workshop, where each and every member has contributed. It is a genuine team effort.’ This is what Ensemble says about their recent play ‘Lal Baksho’ having 5episodes each linked up with one another by red boxes of varying size and nature. Let us have some idea about the episodes.
In the first there are two pairs of lovers- one middle aged lady who for the last 15years is engaged with her office boss who is already having a spouse. Every time when she proposes to marry him, the boss fetches some alibi to set aside the lady and her proposal. This day he gave word to get rid of his present incumbent and settle with his office fiancé. But again there is an alibi and the furious lady finally once for all gives up her boss and the job as well. In the beginning when the curtain slides open we discover a red suitcase besides a bench in a park. A young man having a long beard now and again moving from one wing to another but not staying anywhere. The middle aged couple amidst their awesome quarrel discovers the ownerless red box and forgetting the issue of divorce and marriage they are trembling with the fear of bomb blast. And finally comes a bit nervous young lady for fleeing with her lover who is waiting long for her. They left the place with the red suitcase. In one hand the middle aged woman is aggressive to get the man and on the other young man is anxiously waiting to have his fiancé.
The second episode is with artisans waiting in the same park for customers. Here out of nothing director and script writer Sohag Sen develops excellent dramatic moments not only with a red box but also with the dialect, conversations and behaviours of the artisans. The way she smoothly makes and breaks the blocks and compositions is amazing to visualize and at the same time it`s an important lesson to the theatre workers too. Here also a boy courageous in philandering is also seen to be courageous in combating an unknown fear of ‘pressure bomb` centered with a red box of a barber.
Third scene is an event in a train compartment which was built with the same elements (3 benches) used in first two episodes. Not only that, the fourth one is an apartment ready to celebrate the marriage ceremony of the only son of the family and the last episode is a studio preparing to shoot a part of a mega TV serial. In all 5episodes those 3 benches are being used changing their respective positions. And as a spectator we never feel any dearth. She has shown again what theatre actually is. Moreover widespread conspiracy to intermingle terrorism with the Muslim community has been dealt in the third episode with a mastermind where again an ownerless red box is mixed up with a Muslim passenger Shirajul. And eventually when the box gets his owner, assaulted and humiliated Shirajul leaves the compartment by exchanging birth with the owner of the box with a silent protest which lashes a whip on his co-passengers and on the spectators as well.
The fourth one is a pre marriage ceremony in a family apartment where bride groom the central character is oppressed and suppressed by his parents who to fulfill their unfulfilled desires have jeopardized the life of their son. This is also very common in our social environment. A small red box left in the corridor initiates the untold stories to be told by the prospective bride groom. Among 5episodes the last one seems to be a piece of make belief where at last an unclaimed big red box blasts killing a very prospective actor and killing/injuring many.
A small tile in Columbia space shuttle is so indispensible that devoid of that tiny tile the space shuttle itself may crash. And so Sohag Sen nurtured her team of Lal Baksho. The team strength is 25 including 8actresses. Each member of this team is playing a crucial role. Obviously some has multiple roles to play in the stage. This team is so keenly and affably nursed by the captain Sohag that I`m to congratulate her from the core of my heart. She has again proved that group theatre does not mean making performances by hook or by crook, but group theatre means building a group of theatre workers able to do everything from shoe polish to recite Shakespearean Sonnets with their competent cerebral having same skill and accuracy respectively.
Hats off Sohag Madam, hats off the members of Ensemble from whom Bablu Sarcar , Jayanta Roy Chowdhury, Manik Banik, Sangeeta Chakraborty have rendered special hands to the director in doing light, sound, make up and stage management respectively.
– Pachu Ray