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The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Some pleasantly unexpected things have happened in youth theatre. Theatrecian staged a rare programme of what amounted to 13 revue sketches, under the title, The Comedy Kitchen. Director Dhruv Mookerji normally gets his kicks from straightforward farce, but here he adapted most of his foreign sources intelligently into Indian contexts, often mixing languages and sometimes using Hindi exclusively. This made the mainly TV skits surprisingly relevant, as in Silly Job Interview (Monty Python) or the hyperbolic Four Yorkshiremen.

Most topically, his Calcuttization of Pinterís Victoria Station as Howrah Station (picture), where a refusenik taxi-driver (Sumeet Thakur) drives his radio operator (Mookerji) bananas, naturalized Pinterís menace perfectly. Elsewhere, Shadab Kamal proved his versatility in several roles, and Dana Roy shone in David Ivesís Okay!, about the best pickup lines. Unfortunately, Mookerjiís three pun-filled originals towards the end showed that he still has to mature as a writer.

Hypokrites, with much less experience, has produced a winner in Conditions Apply. Given the right guidance and circumstances, Anuvab Dasgupta can become Bengali theatreís dramatist-director of the future. He puts two college friends through multiple failed relationships until they inadvertently realize their feelings for each other. One can see it coming, ŗ la Harry Meets Sally, that too in a sentimental conclusion, but Dasgupta possesses a litheness of touch, while Shottam and Abheri present genuine, unaffected portrayals.

Anger and angst, more typical of youth, characterize the other efforts. Hypokritesís bilingual Godís Toilet, written and directed by Asijit Datta, features substantial toilet humour to manifest rage and update Peter Handkeís Offending the Audience. Datta does not realize that beyond a point this stance of verbal antagonism wears out and boomerangs on them, the viewerís patience wearing thin.

Mad About Drama deployed their frustrations to braver impact on 7-Laksha-1. Impatient with the new dispensationís inability to remove uncivil society in this city, despite the promises made of Big Change, Aritra Sengupta composed short scenes of urban degeneration to drive his point home. At a time when even established names play safe politically, we must applaud MAD for their courage to speak their mind.

Yet shouting and screaming do not constitute acting; the finest expressions of fury seethe within. No Qlue should remember this, for Shaket Banerjeeís The Various Shades of Mr Gray remained limited by its ranting, though he certainly improved upon his debut. He composed a more coherent script, and got Dorian Gray interpretations out of the criminal rivals, Rahul Bose and Avishek De Biswas, but tended to repeat motifs from his last play, such as drinking and street-corner scenes.