“Edward II” presented by NSD students stood out for its spectacular show of war scenes.

“Edward II” based on Bertolt Brecht's play of the same title presented by the final year students of National Schools of Drama at Abhimanch this past week is remarkable for capturing war scenes spectacularly.

It is directed by Robin Das, known for his fine stage design and sensitive handling of mass scenes which embellish his stage productions with poetic imagery. A senior faculty member, he is unassuming about his visual spectacular oeuvre.

Despite the long duration of the play, which runs for nearly three hours, tediously slow paced at times, the director brings to the fore the debauchery, perfidy and brutality of the ruling class and the bloody struggle to grab State power.

Adapted in Hindi by Vivek Mishra, the play opens with the declaration of Edward II as the King of England and the return of Piers Gaveston from exile. The new king welcomes him with a warm embrace ignoring the strong protest from nobles and his brother who hated Gaveston and were instrumental for his exile. The king's infatuation for him is so passionate that he ignores his own queen, Isabella of France with disdain and publicly insults her. The nobles led by scholar Mortimer wage a civil war against the king demanding the exile of the hated Gaveston. But the king prefers to risk his throne and life rather than concede to the demand of the rebels.

However, as the circle of history moves, Mortimer, once a liberator, turns to be a perpetrator of tyranny in collaboration with the wife of Edward II who has become his bed partner. Another civil war ensues and the play ends with the execution of Mortimer for killing the imprisoned King Edward II and the imprisonment of queen and enthronement of Edward III.

The original source of this work was Christopher Marlowe's play considered one of the earliest English history plays. Brecht adapted it in 1923. This is one of the early plays of Brecht, written at a time when he was engaged in evolving a new theatre with political overtones. Critics believe that Brecht's adaptation with its new ideas and structure is “a separate work in its own right.”

Most of Robin's productions display elaborate set design. In this production however, his design is functional with minimal stage paraphernalia providing enough space for performers to enact war scenes without any obstacles.An impressive orchestra with music score by Pandit Rajendra Prasanna assumes a significant expressive power, imparting war scenes with vitality and portraying the intense inner motive. The power of these scenes is enhanced with stylised movements in perfect synchronisation with the beats of a variety of drums. The large cast display their histrionic talents.

It is a pity that even on the third evening of the show the brochure was not available which could have provided the audience with insights about an important historical play, which was produced with imagination and artistry.