Since its inception in 1996, Centre for Asian Theatre has tried to put Bangladesh on the global theater scene. Over the years, it has staged a wide variety of theatre productions, ranging from folk forms such as Bhelua Sundari, classical Sanskrit theater including Vikramorvasiya and adaptations of various world famous playwrights.
Their new play Macabre recently screened at the Dhaka International Theatre Festival. Truth be told, the play is not everyone’s cup of tea and caters to a niche audience. As one enters the National theater hall, the performers consists of a person in an old man’s mask playing violin, and a woman dancing along on stage. Soon after, the soothing music is interrupted with questions over the identity of corpses. Two prisoners take centre stage. Through these two unnamed characters the play proceeds. The brilliant aspect of the play, which also makes it a little confusing, is the non-linear narration.
Using animation, videography, mime, lights and music a world of Macabre is created. This nation does not have a name but it represents the world we live in mired with violence. The prisoners anguish, defeat, insanity, helplessness represents, not just the suffocation they face within the prison. It stands for all of us also who are not in the prison. Nevertheless under the pressure of nationalism, societal ideologies and the concrete jungle of modernity.
Coming to the actors, Mehmud Siddique, Shuvangkar Das, Shetu Azad, Shipra Das and Anika Mahin are brilliant to say the least. They show not just great acting prowess but their energy on stage is addictive.
Any review of the play would be incomplete without giving due credit to Anika Mahin, the playwright. Kudos to the theatre thespian Kamaluddin Nilu for his top notch direction and for making use every nook and corner of the stage. The technical crew should be applauded for their ample support to the narration.