A theatrical call to reinstate leftist thought

The play Captain Hurrah has gorgeous visuals and a lush soundscape

By Dipankar Sen
  • Published 5.10.18, 11:10 PM
  • Updated 5.10.18, 11:10 PM
  • a min read
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A scene from the play Captain Hurrah. Ichheymoto

Watching Ichheymoto’s Captain Hurrah, written by Mohit Chattopadhyay, one is gripped by the sense that the wheel of history has turned full circle. A partially absurdist play advocating the triumph of left ideology, it enjoyed a successful run in the early-1970s when the political left in West Bengal was gaining strength. Then, with the Left Front coming to power and governing for three-plus decades, the play somewhat lost its relevance. Now, when the left is desperate for some wind beneath its flaccid wings, Ichheymoto has resurrected this play to mount a theatrical call to reinstate faith in leftist thought.

Interestingly, although ‘alternative’ in its political positioning, the production aesthetics of Captain Hurrah are unambiguously mainstream (in the context of contemporary Bengali theatre practices) with unwavering focus on the creation of gorgeous visuals and a lush soundscape. The director, Sourav Palodhi, clearly does not believe that ‘left is boring’ and has thus used a language of performance that is peppy, smart and packed with entertainment. This language is accentuated in no small measure by the seamless blend of music (Debdeep Mukherjee), light (Soumen Chakraborty) and set design (Dibyajyoti/Ichheymoto).

Acting is the main strength of the play, with all the actors turning in polished performances. A meaningful sense of performative counterpoint is created with Palodhi having Apratim Sarkar and Sulagna Nath act in a naturalistic mode against the heightened, stylized acting employed by the rest of the cast. Apratim and Sulagna’s quarrel sequence was a stand-out moment, charged with great drama. Turna Das as Captain Hurrah was perfectly pitched in terms of physical and vocal performances, almost setting a benchmark for the others to emulate, which they all did.

Subhayan Ghosh, Kushal Chattopadhyay, Shubhendu Chakraborty, Arindam Sardar (quite brilliant in a cameo), and Subhasish Khamaru have all taken remarkable care to etch out their characters distinctly. Krishnendu Saha and Shubrajyoti Bagchi’s live music was a treat for the ears. If Captain Hurrah is good theatre, a reason for its being so has to be the rhythmic synchrony that the actors created while working as a group.