Two couples sparring, together or separately ó Calcutta got a taste of both, one local, the other from outside. The Red Curtainís See You in the Backfield! uses Yasmina Rezaís God of Carnage for inspiration to nativize the incident of Rezaís sonís friend beating up his schoolmate, necessitating a parley between the parents. God of Carnage (2006) wowed Paris in the original French, then London and New York, before Polanski filmed it last year as Carnage. Commendably, Red Curtain revives their 1970sí practice of staging the very latest Western plays.
However, Sumit Lai Roy departs significantly by directing his cast to adapt their dialogues collectively, and improvise in performance as required. Some elements stay intact, such as the visiting mother vomiting over the hostís art books, or her lawyer husband perpetually on his mobile (undoubtedly why Lai Roy chose this script), which she decisively immerses in the flower vase. But, for instance, the precise moments when the mobile rang remained up to the sound technician, injecting an edge to the scenario.
The ensemble (picture: Nivedita Bhattacharya, Baisali Chatterjee Dutt, Surjya Kar, Deborshi Barat) feeds off one another remarkably well, building up as a comedy, whereas Reza wrote a darker satire on the incivility underlying the veneer of polite society. Lai Roy also needs to cook up a less pat finale.
Last time I saw Vikranth Pawarís direction six years ago, I hauled him up for not crediting the foreign source of Anything but Love!. I hope he hasnít repeated that offence on Ballantineís Salt & Pepper, ďwrittenĒ by him as a programme of ten skits, each involving a man and a woman. Nothing like the sustained irony of Pinterís revue sketches, these oscillate wildly between excellence (showcasing the better actors, the versatile Mandira Bedi and Darshan Jariwalla) and mediocrity (the less seasoned Kuki Grewal and Vikram Kochhar).
The memorable pieces include the first, in which Jariwalla dissuades Bedi from leaping off a rooftop where he himself had gone with the same purpose; on a Ferris wheel that gets stuck, leaving them no choice but to get to know each other; and as husband and wife engaged in bedtime reading, which leads to electric conversation. All three have feel-good endings.
Most of the snippets explore loneliness, but lack depth of content: Jariwalla dreaming up his college girlfriend, or seeing Bediís baby after she married someone else, or both as an old couple (though brilliantly portrayed) who can anticipate what each thinks. Grewal and Kochhar peak as contestants preparing for a predictable dating show, but when they answer a Cosmopolitan quiz or talk phone sex, it becomes puerile.