Review: Unsung at the Rosemary Branch Theatre, N1
PUBLISHED: 10:31 06 September 2013 | UPDATED: 10:31 06 September 2013
The storm clouds gather quickly in Unsung; a play that throws a contemporary spin on the short story ‘Punishment’ by pre-eminent Indian polymath, Rabindranath Tagore. By ditching the Bengali farm for the city of London, this tightly wound play of choking tension throws a haunting spotlight on themes that are demonstrably impervious to a shift in time and place.
In a busy house of two couples, two brothers share an abode with their respective wives. Whilst Ash and Joy are new to married life, indulging in the fresh flushes of a betrothed romance, Rana and Megh are further down the line. They are longer in the tooth and evidently more contemptuous towards each other.
Whilst Ash attempts to temper the free-spirit of Joy, Rana taunts his brother over the liberties exercised by his wife. In his own relationship, Rana and Megh nurse sorrows of their own. After a seemingly innocent encounter, all relationships are tested to breaking point.
This is writer Ayndrilla Singharay’s first play. Like most first ventures, there are missteps. Some of the characterisation cries for greater depth in order to alleviate possible accusations of character inconsistency. Also, the residue of a significant mid-point event unbalances the play from which it struggles to realign. That is not to say that there is not much to commend. The scenes skip by in neat nippy episodic segments, giving a pleasing forward momentum. There is also an effective suggestion of inevitable menace, where Chekhov’s gun theory is framed in a masterly manner.
It is bittersweet that in spite of any cultural dissonance between the past and the present, the chimes of gender inequality still ring out in a mournfully relatable fashion. Tradition and progression remain locked in their incongruous embrace. Suffice to say, the update translates.
Unsung may not be spectacular, but it is a solid and promising debut.
*** (three stars)
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