Direction : Dhiraj Palshetkar
Writer : Sneha Desai
Cast : Sneha Desai and Dharmendra Gohil

BLACKOUT Play Review

Pratik Kothari

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Relationships are very complicated. They come in all shades, with the good and the bad, the highs and the lows. Dharmendra Gohil of Phoenix Players staged his production BLACKOUT at the NCPA Centrestage festival 2013. The play is based on a husband-wife relationship.

Siddharth (Dharmendra Gohil) and Maitri (Sneha Desai) lead a routine life in their apartment in Mumbai. Like the average husband Siddharth doesn't seem to be well versed with the household chores while Mairti is a perfectionist and prefers to be ready for any kind of emergency. The couple has a dialogue often but seldom 'communicates'. There is an underlying tension between them. Maitri has had a miscarriage and Siddharth wasn't around at the time. Maitri isn't able to forgive him for this. Or should we say that she isn't able to accept the reality and wants somebody to blame. Their relationship effectively goes cold. Until one day when there is a power cut in their building, and the couple starts to 'communicate' a little over the forced candle-lit dinner.


Exploring relationships has been a favourite theme for all performance-based mediums. Be it Bollywood or television or the stage. Some works have been remarkable while others just attempt to ape the formula. To writer Sneha Desai's (she also plays the wife) credit, moments between the couple are very fresh, lively as well as convincing. There are episodes that make you laugh and then there are portions that make your eyes moist as you empathise with the characters. All the candle-lit scenes are a treat to watch. The conversations are really enjoyable while the penultimate scene where Siddharth leaves the house is touching. The subsequent twist will surprise you. It is, to use a director's terminology, an execution punch.

At the same time the couple of scenes at the beginning don't really add to the play. May be aimed at setting up the plot and establishing the characters, the audience is likely to connect to the characters even sans the early scenes. The scenes could also be given a miss since they get a little repetitive. Also the fact that the audiences are told that there will be a power cut, a few good minutes before it happens, somewhat dilutes the impact. But once the play picks up, it races along. The characterisations are well etched and the characters stay with you even after the play is over.

While Dhiraj Palshetkar's direction is neat, both Sneha Desai and Dharmendra Gohil totally become the characters they are playing. It is the biggest achievement when the actors make you feel that what is happening on stage is happening for the first time. Both Aalap Desai and Kamlesh Mota enhance the impact of the play with their music and light design respectively. Kamlesh Mota's set design is in sync with an upper, middle-class household.

With its fresh take on a husband-wife relationship, the play is certainly worth a watch.

*Pratik Kothari has a Diploma in Acting from Barry John's acting studio. He has worked with theatre groups like Manoj Shah's Ideas Unlimited and Salim Arif's Essay Communications. He has also acted in films and is currently assistant director on Shyam Benegal's TV Series 'Samvidhan'.

Please click here for the preview of the play

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