by Kaila M. Stokes
Hypokrit Theatre Company and Junoon Performing Arts presents Devdas and Chokher Bali running in rep through November 20th at Theater for the New City. Devdas is a dance piece that takes a classic Indian love story usually told from the man’s perspective and instead tells the woman’s side of things. In the description in the program Hypokrit Theatre says “We bring to the stage the oldest Indian love story, as it’s never been seen before –where women rule, and love and loss is just a transaction.” This was particularly thrilling to read and raised the bar before the show even began. As the show began it was your typical story of boy meets girl and they fall in love. The girl and boy both love to dance and soon enter a dancing competition, similar to “So You Think You Can Dance.” Through dance the girl and boy are pulled apart; jealously, seduction, and distrust ensue.
The second piece was Chokher Bali. This tale is adapted by Dr. Partho Chatterjee from a legendary novel about female desire in the domestic sphere. This piece had many actors, most of which were unnecessary in the telling of the story. It was a story within a story so you had your townspeople who are then telling the tale of Ashalata and Mahendra. Mahendra is a rich boy studying to be a doctor that seems to be a forever bachelor until he meets Ashalata. Ashalata and him wed and are madly feverishly in love until Mahendra’s eyes wonder. Mahendra is an Icarus and he has flown to close to the sun when he meets Binodini. Binodini is not necessarily in love with him, but he shows her affection so she goes along with it. She is actually in love with his friend Bihari. Without giving away the ending most people are sad or die.