Mumbai Mirror, Friday, September 21, 2007
“Walking The Talk”
End of Season is a whole lot of talk. Which is fine since it actually has something to say
Like any other experimental play today End Of Season is a whole lot of talk. Unlike most others, however, it actually has something to say. Playwright Divya Jagdale constructs her play around moments in the life of a family of four. It is essentially an intensive portrait of sisters Jankhana and Priyam and their mother, but their father, the only male character in the play, has not been treated merely as a catalyst either. Jagdale knows and delivers all four characters with such thoroughness it is hard to imagine you have known them for just about an hour by the end of the play. Her attention to detail collaborates with the compassion and honesty of the story to give it a rare integrity. The story does not pawn ‘twists’ or ‘revelations’; constantly underplaying them to allow the focus to remain on the inner journey of the protagonists. The play starts with two antonymous siblings- a conformist and a rebel, but goes on to deconstruct the essential clichés to expose the matrix of human dilemmas and condition that lies beneath us all, with a quiet dignity. What is endearing is, it does so without taking itself too seriously and unexpectedly suffusing its scope with a warm and intelligent sense of humour. The writing is not high art. Jankhana’s begging her father for money, her candid difficulty in making sense of motherhood or Priyam’s obsessive desire for the same which begins to border around absurdity, are all too familiar and relatable. Jagdale’s achievement lies in choosing the points where she makes incisions to look into her women.
Pushan Kripalani’s direction might appear retrograde with its kitchen-sink realism at first glance but it is deceptively simple. The audience is comforted and involved by the familiarity of the space as the family goes about their daily chores. At a time when experimentation is mostly a desperate bid to hide lack of substance behind abstraction and surrealism, the director brandishes his confidence in the play by restraining from imposing externalities on it. In his treatment of the script he makes a strong case against experimentation for its own sake. He breaks from convention by employing silence in the narrative. The use is refreshing and remarkable especially given that Indian theatre and cinema seem to be practically petrified of silences. Reema Lagoo, Sheikh Sami Usman, Shivani Tanksale and Trishla Patel do more than turn in fine performances on stage- they live the characters.
Mumbai theatrescape has been abuzz with disproportionate attention and discussion focused on original English writing lately. End Of Season may not be its finest example but it is certainly one bright ray of hope. In a heap of ideas that charade as plays, it is a complete play marked by simplicity, depth and ambiguity, which could have been its only logical conclusion.