DOSH Play Review

Divyani Rattanpal

Direction : Vinay Sharma
Writer : Vinay Sharma
Cast : Harsh Khurana & Sarika Singh

 DOSH Review

Stella Adler had once called theatre "the social x-ray of its time."

After all, doesn't an X-ray lay bare the naked truth? Doesn't it, with clinical precision, pinpoint where the bone is broken; the joint dislocated?

When a society faces multiple fractures: the fracturing of mutual trust; the fracturing of harmonious coexistence theatre becomes its skeletal exhibit. The play DOSH is an x-ray of demagoguery and the societal complicity that allows its evils to fester.

At the outset, the play looks very humble: both in terms of production values and the scope of the story which has a sibling relationship as its perimeter.

But what seems like a personal drama of Seema and her brother, who she's met after a long time, suddenly does a 180-degree somersault, into the political. Playing with the space-time function, DOSH takes the siblings back in time to find themselves at crossroads of the Milgram experiment - a social psychology study that was much talked about in the 60s.

The study made the point that under the right circumstances, ordinary people will obey unjust orders, especially when they come from a powerful, authoritarian figure. The narrative plot of DOSH, too, attempts to unclothe the idea of obedience - whether it is to a toxic family member, or a political figure.

Through the story of the siblings, the play attempts to show the effect unquestioned obedience towards sinister authority can have.

Although DOSH's vault, from humdrum chit-chat, into the loaded topic of Bystander effect is very abrupt, the performers are skilled at landing.

Sarika Singh, who portrays the role of the sister, embodies a humanistic style of acting. You know she's emotionally invested in the story, and it makes the drama more hard-hitting. Even sitting in the last row, she grips you with her dramatic reading of the character. Singh is one of the rare breed of actors who are equally good in theatre as well as on-camera.

The other lead, Harsh Khurana, is good too. Sometimes, Khurana may tend to succumb to a bit of melodrama here and there, but there's no denying that both the actors are first-rate. They both have a very fluid body language.

The writer and director, Vinay Sharma weaves an enchanting tapestry with the warps of sibling relationships, and the wefts of a social experiment which has had a huge impact on world politics. Although writing-wise, psychological concepts like the Milgram experiment and Bystander effect come into the plot as suddenly as a strong gush of rain on an otherwise sunny day. But after all, what's drama if not something unexpected?!

Like the Eastern yin and yang, exploring a sibling relationship in the plot softens the binary between us versus them.

The lighting by Sudip Sanyal is interesting, especially the scene where they show the Milgram experiment being conducted.

The play's biggest win is that instead of blaming someone else, it urges us all to look within and examine the thick conditioning that has impelled us to blindly follow authoritative people, who couch under their commanding voice and larger-than-life persona, some very sinister plans.

*Divyani has worked as a journalist for The Quint, where she was also among the Founding Team members. While there, she also hosted and produced a podcast and fronted several standups. She's also worked for The Times of India group. She's now a theatre and film actor.

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