The Oedipus tragedy is known to all. Oedipus was a club footed prince, later to become the king. When Oedipus was born, the soothsayer proclaimed that Oedipus was destined to kill his father. To avoid this tragic turn of events, Oedipus was sent off to the woods and was ordered to be killed by the gunmanaccompanying him. The gunman took pity and left the infant in the forest for nature to take responsibilities.
What the soothsayer said had to come true. By the turn of events Oedipus kills the King, his father and marries the Queen (Jocasta). And as the truth is revealed to him, Oedipus cannot bear the ugly truth that brings unbearable shame on him and he blinds himself and leaves the country for good.
But what happens to Jocasta? Jocasta is not the central character and her tragedy is not showcased and therefore we are never told.
Saleque Khan had told me, he wants to make a play where the story unravels the tragedy of Jocasta. A member of Nagorik Natya Sampradaya, the group to which we both belong went through several sessions with PanthaShahriar the playwright, who was also to be his Assistant director.
Pantha came up with the tragedy of Jocasta in a totally different setting than the Greek tragedy of Oedipus.
Tropa Majumdar does the role of the mother to whom the truth unfurls that she has married her son.
Some of the plays are inked in our memory after having watched them several times or having read them repeatedly. This play, in which we see Jocasta's tragedy, is a gripping piece of dramatic performance. And Pantha Shahriar has done a wonderful job of writing and directing the play, which is called "Ondhokarey Methane".
Our friend Saleque who had returned to Dhaka after completing his Ph.D. fromNew York University in Drama, is a true theatre person. He lived in the realm of theatre. Now He is back in New York. I thought his life of discipline was the contribution of his training in theatre: first in National School of Drama and later in New York University.
Not only Jocasta's story which has been so well communicated to the director/playwright, which makes it another A+ show on the Dhaka stage, the concept itself is a great one, in my view.
When this play was first discussed in our rehearsal room, there were skeptics. It was sacrosanct to even touch Oedipus, leave alone leave his tragedy aside and tell the story of Jocasta and what could be her state of mind when the truth unravels that she has married her very own son. These people had almost challenged Saleque for his twisted (distorted) thoughts. But Saleque quietly worked along with his assistant director and brought to stage a wonderful play where we see some superb acting by Tropa. Not to mention Panthya who also did a fine job.
Dear readers this is not a review of the play, though it is clear that it has nudged me in a very positive way.
Those of us in the ARTs, we have to nurture our love for performance and bringing new dimensions to time tested plays is always a marvel. Because the original is in the mass memory and the impact of witnessing the twist is Magical!!
The writer is Managing Director, Asiatic 3 Sixty