TATHAGATA CHOWDHURY’S THE LOCKDOWN LOVER
A CRITICAL REVIEW
By Dr. Payal Trivedi
Well, any theatre performance is meant to entertain is an understatement today because we have all come to terms with the fact that theatre is much more than simply a mode of refreshment. Investing our time and energy in beholding any performance ought to enable us enough food for thought not just by being didactic but by helping us realize our weaknesses, our flaws and misdemeanours that may have led us to falsely believe in the material notion of scepticism that seems to have crept in all our walks of life today. We tend to always engage in self doubt, of essentially questioning the obvious and of incessantly negating all possibilities of giving stability to our lives. All that today’s worldly compartments of propriety and impropriety have given us is a bizarre set of meaningless precepts. These we follow mechanically with the fear of being ostracized by the so called normal society or flout entirely as a means of blatant rebuttal against the stringent myopic framework that often surrounds rules made for whom we label the ‘Normal Man’. The category of the ‘normals’ includes those that bear the onus of proclaiming ‘acting’ according to the stipulated socio-cultural norms as a mark of sanity. This excludes any kind of aberration which may disturb the so called normal setting of a ‘settled home and family’ we humans often propagate as an insignia of ‘orderly mental health’. Unfortunately for us, anything anyone does different from having a perfectly settled home is conventionally considered unhealthy and the primary cause of mental illness.
Well, the message is simple and clear but is conveyed through an essentially ‘vague’ motivation towards choosing ‘absurd’ mode of theatrical performance that leads the motto of laying bare this extremely vital issue hay ways. First and foremost, the disorderly array of character shifting that we come across mars the charm of this rendition at its very onset. That stage cannot capture the nuances of facial expressions is a matter of common understanding and therefore, it is obvious that when the actor shifts from one character to another, the performance does not seem to deal efficiently with this change simply because it is not required prominently to showcase the difference. When there is an overbearing energy that tries to dominate or suppress the other and the explicit resistance of the other is being displayed with repressed tendencies, it obviously should impart a lesson of a ‘toxic relationship and its repercussions’ when in this performance it comes out as an ‘enforced torture’ upon the audience to make them forcefully assent to the ‘failure of values’. This failure is so anointed with the cumbersome obsession of anomaly that can be seen in the character using the ‘whip’ that acts as a paradigm of inexplicable violence that puzzles due to the lack of clarity. A more structured absurdism(If I am permitted to use this expression) would have made it intelligible rather than prolix one, the performance chooses to adopt the ‘heightened potency of absurdism’ that is needless and I feel is so overwhelming that it almost nullifies the importance of conveying at least, ‘some’ meaning.
I do feel that proportionate dose of the vaccine called ‘absurdism’ can boost our immunity but an overdose may completely lead to multiple organ failures and not being sarcastic at all as a viewer I definitely felt that is performance is beyond my level of comprehension. It is possible that this is ‘heightened intellectual apex that perhaps an ordinary theatre person as I may not be able to reach; definitely possible and I accept this with all humility!
A talented and popular theatre artist as Tathagata Chowdhury fails to cast a long lasting impression with his extraneous attempts to correlate absurd theatre with Indian bourgeois set up. This is simply because; the hypocrisy of today’s English speaking Indian families with ultra modern outlook ultimately boils down to having a settled home with children. This is not dual mindset I suppose but is an outcome of the age old Indian mentality of being culturally rooted to one’s customary adherence to tradition that seldom permits anomalous living. When Chowdhury tries to target the contemporary Indian society with its loopholes that disallow normalcy to them, he does not take into account the fact that the apparent aberration of tradition in India is equally a facade like its retention of its values is. That’s the reason that he cannot think beyond a ‘shattered morality’ tendency of the Indian modern class and is unsuccessful in his attempt to impress with his absolutely vague acting.
Finally, I do acknowledge that drama is a means of self analysis that forbids insinuating anyone under any circumstance. This review is simply meant to give an unbiased outlook towards a performance and does not intend to dictate any opinion. Rest assured, it’s simply my personal perception folks!