‘For Adults Only’ said the flyer of the play based on Buddhadeb Bosu's novel 'Raat Bh'ore Bristy' (It Rained All Night). Soon after it was written in 1967, the court had banned the novel for its content. After a four-year trial, the ban was finally lifted, but by that time the tag 'controversial' had been slapped on its name.
On Friday, UPSTAGE, a new theatre platform, staged the first show of the play. The show was houseful, theatre enthusiasts flocking to the Neelima Ibrahim Auditorium of the Bangladesh Mahila Samity to have a look at the experiment.
The play begins with Monimala's confession that she had slept with Joy, the friend of her husband Angshu.
Angshu, a former university teacher and now the creative director of an ad agency, has been married to Monimala for over a decade now, but their relationship has lost its spark. They have a daughter, but we do not see her in the play.
Joy runs a magazine. He frequents the couple's new apartment, as do some of Angshu's other friends.
Angshu, an avid reader of poetry, is kind of delusional about the real life. The spark in their relationship is long gone and he has developed a liking for one of his colleagues, we are told.
Monimala is hungry for love, care and attention, something she cannot relay to her husband. And she finds him quite selfish.
Angshu can sense Joy's interest in his wife and he does realise it is not one-sided, because Monimala's eyes sparkle when she talks about Joy, the way they did when she was in love with Angshu early in their relationship.
Joy knew what Monimala needed and he played her to his tune. But when they finally make love, she is perplexed.
She blames Angshu for not handling the situation with an iron hand. She wonders why Angshu did not ask Joy to stop coming to their place.
Angshu is torn between his feelings for his wife and her happiness in the company of his friend.
What happens in the end, you will have to find out yourself, watching this production on stage. We have little doubt Dhaka's theatre has seen a more daring play, in terms of what we call 'adult content'.
Director Saif Suman deserves plaudits for undertaking the project and its beautiful execution. Proshanta Halder did a good job as Angshu, as did Kazi Ruksana Ruma who played Monimala. Both are known faces of the theatre, but we assume they will do even better in the next shows. Ranjan Dey Sathi, playing Joy, had limited time on the stage, but his role was significant.
Asit Kumar composed the music while Amlan Biswas was in charge of lighting and Runa Kanchan of costume.
"UPSTAGE is neither a theatre troupe, nor a repertory. It is an alternative platform where actors who usually perform with different groups have come together to do something new. Who knows this might become mainstream in the future," said Proshanta, who also heads the new platform.
How things will roll out in the future remains to be seen, but theatre goers who could not see the play on Friday should try not to miss the next show.