Kolkata: The Second Innings – an online adaptation of Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Neil Simon’s Chapter Two recently presented by Theatrecian, acknowledged as one of Kolkata’s most productive and creative English-language theatre groups, enthralled the audience.
The half-an-hour long romantic-comedy, directed by Neha Poddar, revolves around the lives of four different individuals – Anjali Poddar, a divorcee and who is Lost in Translation, her friend Koel Sarkar, an actor and The Go-Getter, Koel’s friend Aryan Bakshi, The Experimental Lover and his elder brother, the recently widowed Karan Bakshi, The Lost Writer.
Before we proceed, allow us to inform you that Neil Simon, hailed as one of American’s most prolific playwrights drew inspiration from his own life. Chapter Two which is about giving in to love the second time is semi-autobiographical and dramatises the trauma that Simon faced when he lost his first wife, Joan Baim, to cancer in 1973. Simon gave in to the Chapter Two of his life when he got married to actor Marsha Mason, who had incidentally starred in the 1979 film version of Chapter Two.
Now, let’s return to Theatrecian’s The Second Innings. When the play opens, we find the four individuals trying to deal with their own insecurities pertaining to love, life and relationships. While Koel (Prerona Sanyal) and Aryan (Rwikjit Roy) share a past, they are now married to different people. They meet after a long time and even as they mull over what would have happened if the two of them had got married, they decide to indulge in a forbidden relationship, where the reins are held by throes of carnal experimentation.
Next, we have Anjali Poddar (played by Neha Poddar herself) and Karan Bakshi (Deborshi Barat). Anjali is a divorcee and her friend Koel wants her to start dating. Karan, on the other hand, who is still mourning the death of his wife, Megha whom he lost to cancer, is egged on by his younger brother Aryan to get back on the saddle.
Koel and Aryan get Anjali and Karan together. Karan calls Anjali. It takes time for them to get over their initial hesitation. But soon, they connect, they bond, their love blossoms and finally, they decide to start the second innings of their lives.
The Second Innings is set during the present ‘lockdown’ time frame and thus, it justifies the online interaction of the characters – both in the play and in their real lives. Each actor has performed from their respective homes and that is an achievement in itself.
The script is an apt adaptation. It flows very well and the dialogues are engaging, entertaining and witty and add to the contemporary theme of the play.
The cast of The Second Innings put up a stellar performance. While Prerona Sanyal and Rwikjit Roy as Koel and Aryan complement each other, Neha Poddar and Deborshi Barat are brilliant as Anjali Poddar and Karan Bakshi. One could feel their angst, their doubts, their insecurities and connect with them on an emotional plane when they did. Special mention must be made of Deborshi Barat for portraying Karan so remarkably. His performance made Karan’s dilemma and turmoil so very real.
Neha Poddar’s direction is spot-on. She remains true to the spirit of the play and gets the actors to primarily focus on their facial expressions and voice modulation that suit the ‘tone’ of the play and the online format to the hilt.
Dhruv Mookerji has also done a commendable job as the sound arranger of play.
The Second Innings is indeed a ‘first-class’ act and certainly deserves many more ‘runs’.