Prachyanat recently staged the Bengali adaptation of Four Portraits of Mothers at Shilpakala Academy, Mayer Mukh. The Arnold Wesker play had its Bangla interpretation done by Moom Rahman and was directed by Kazi Toufikul Islam Emon. The play was divided into four acts consisting of monologues.
The first act consists of Ruth played by Lucy Tripti Gomes, a single mother whose lover abandoned her when he heard that she conceived out of wedlock. She tries to fill the shoes of both the mother and the father figure in her daughter’s life. However, her daughter keeps asking for a father which makes Ruth helpless, leading to sudden bouts of breakdowns. It is a complex character and Gomez completely gives in to the character.
The second act shows a seventy year old woman, Naomi portrayed by Ritu Sattar who is virtually invisible under all the make-up. Sattar gives a memorable performance which wipes out the memory of her cringeworthy “your Grashe” act just three nights ago in Man for All Season. Naomi is motherless and lives on her own. She tries to find her motherhood in her nephew, Danny. Although she loves it when Danny calls but she gets angry. This reaction is a combination of the ordeal faced because of her old age and Danny’s failure to understand what she is trying to convey. Ritu deserves a special mention for making Naomi so real. The loud applause after her act is a testimony to her brilliance in portraying this role.
The third act has Mirium narrating her story to a psychiatrist. Joyeeta Nobish Mohala, who plays this role, shows an array of emotions one after the other. She succeeds in showing how broken Mirium is psychologically. The best part of this act is the repeated reference of how the bad parenting during Mirium’s childhood has affected her own parenting skills.
The last act consists of Debora played by Sadika Swarna. She plays the role of a mother who is successful and enjoys every bit of it. She has no complains from life and screams out loud that she is not weak. Maybe an actress with a more mature voice could have added that extra punch to the character. Nevertheless, this act is important because we see all the four women come on stage.
The play is free of any added artificial technical gimmicks. Between every act there are simple, but hard hitting projections consisting of headlines highlighting the atrocities committed against women. The set design is simple but sufficient to differentiate one act from the other. The director deserves an extra pat on the back for bringing all four characters on stage in the last act. It shows that these women are not parts of different worlds, but they are just characters we come across everyday at a marketplace.