Having crossed the decade mark last year, 10th Planet has secured a distinction for itself in the Calcutta theatre ecosystem as a group with a bias towards producing modern classics. After producing Galileo, it has returned to Bertolt Brecht, this time through The Threepenny Opera. Of course, this production joins a rather illustrious line of previous Bengali productions based on Brecht’s play, with Ajitesh Bandyopadhyay’s Tin Poysar Pala (produced by Nandikar in 1969) probably being the most talked about version. Like the Nandikar production, the one by 10th Planet localises Brecht by setting the action in a Bengali milieu.
The backbone of any fairly loyal adaptation of The Threepenny Opera, as conceived by Brecht, has to be the music, and the director, Sharanya Dey, has accorded music (done by Panchajanya Dey) its due importance in the scheme of things. Most of the songs, in a manner that befits Brecht, disrupt the narrative to introduce ideas and notions that compel the audience to take cognisance of larger issues beyond the dramatised fiction. The rap battle between Polly and Lucy is energetic and lively, while the very cynical song calling for turning the entire world into a rubbish heap emits raw power. Not all the songs, however, are of the same merit and thus are quite unequal in theatrical effectiveness.
The cast comprises young artists, some of whom are yet to master the intricacies of acting. But it is heartwarming to witness the collective commitment towards carrying out the directorial brief. Avijit Basak as Janardan Poddar employs a flat intonation throughout his performance, the motivation for which is unclear. While Tridhara Chatterjee and Paromita Saha turn in compelling performances, Debopriya Chowdhury, despite being in a costume that demands an overhaul, is genuinely convincing. Sharanya Dey takes to his role (that of Mantu) with the ease of a fish taking to water, but the surprise package has to be Abhipsa Chakraborty, who portrays Polly with remarkable poise and clout.