Mumbai’s theatre scene is buzzing as always, more so because of the small alternative venues in the suburbs. All the ten plays picked may not be the best, but a few of them attempted to do something different, pushed the boundaries, even if they did not quite succeed. All the plays did not open this year, but were seen in 2018. So, in no particular order…
Atul Kumar’s tribute to Alfred Hitchcock and Film Noir, is a quirky and enjoyable production, with an innocent doctor caught in the web of femme fatales, eccentric villains and a macguffin.
Ila Arun and KK Raina directed this production of Tammy Ryan’s play about post-partum depression, with Dilnaz Irani’s brilliant performance as a new mother suffering from this terrifying condition, and Ankur Rathee as her supportive but hapless husband.
Jeff Goldberg wrote, directed and acted in this powerful solo piece about the Pakistani-American in search of his roots, who ends up as a terrorist and one of the masterminds of the 26/11 attacks in Mumbai.
If Naseeruddin Shah acts in a play (and co-directs with Ratna Pathak-Shah), it has to be worth watching; in Florian Zeller’s cleverly written piece, he does the part of a man having an affair with his best friend’s wife, and the complicated tangle of lies and deceit that ensues.
Yuki Ellias directs Sneh Sapru’s play about a bunch of women in rural Haryana, who get inspired by Kalpana Chawla’s space flight, and take over a local radio station to share stories of science and hope.
Nadir Khan directed an original musical written by Rahul DaCunha and Bugs Bhargava Krishna, with their songs set to music by Clinton Cerejo, that revolved around a music reality show, and had some wonderful young singers.
Faezeh Jalali brings her expertise with movement and her penchant for social responsibility to bring Vineet Bhalla’s Sultan Â Padamsee award-winning play about the struggles of a rural community to life.
Prajakt Deshmukh’s soulful Marathi musical, about the bonding between Sant Tukaram’s neglected wife Avali and Lakhubai, the equally disgruntled wife of his idol Lord Vithoba, with Shubhangi Sadavarte and Manasi Prabhakar Joshi’s mellifluous voices singing some great abhangs.
Where else but in a Makrand Deshpande play, would Shakespeare come down to Prithvi Theatre to have a verbal dual with the playwright?
Atul Pethe directed this stirring Marathi play by Ajit Dalvi, and played the fiery social reformer, whose ahead-of-the-times writings on birth control and sexual freedom for women, had him hauled to court multiple times on charges of obscenity, for one of which Dr Ambedkar defended him.
Deepa Gahlot is one of India’s seniormost and best known entertainment journalists. A National Awardwinning film critic, Deepa has watched more movies and theatre than most people in the country. An author of several books on film and theatre, she has had an extremely successful run as head of theatre and film at the National Centre for Performing Arts, Mumbai, during which she helped nurture several original productions. For Xyngr, Deepa Gahlot reviews theatre and cinema.