A play that delves into the heart of man-woman relationships and leaves you asking, ‘why not'.
"Once, On That Street" by Swetanshu Bora
A three-act play set in a flat, a strong-willed woman, the two men in her life, and an obnoxious neighbour with bad grammar and blinkered vision. Sounds simple enough, with a slight inclination towards the cliché, except Swetanshu Bora is a clever man, with a clever script.
Bora, a thespian through and through, can be recognised from his much-lauded performances in “Harlesden High Street” and “Elling”. And, in what is not his first attempt at writing for the stage, he has a masterpiece that has been crafted with the care of someone who understands the dynamics of the stage and a performer.
“Once, On That Street” was born when Swetanshu was attending Writers Bloc, a writing residency, conducted by Rage Theatre. “It was an idea I'd been always toying with but I penned it down when I attended the workshop,” says the Bangalore-based Bora.
The play deals with a situation that's so essentially 21st Century India. You are smiling, nodding in agreement and associating people you know with the protagonist Maya and her two men, Shankar and Karan. “My characters are not entirely fictitious and they are all loosely-based on people I know, but I think that just made it easier for me in the process of writing,” he says.
For a playwright who is still courting this newfound romance, he makes bold moves in his choice of theme and even his ending. It might be the timeliness of his script or the tactical way in which the story has been told, or simply the confidence with which he tells it — he pulls it off. He sends you back thinking about the problem at hand and searching for a solution.
Relationships are not so simplistic anymore. Everybody has a story, which cannot be discussed enough, throw in some sexual tension and you have stuff that sagas are made of. Bora writes with the finesse of someone who understands the urban upwardly mobile Indian, is familiar with their easy dialogue, and knows the uncompromising nature of relationships and their refusal to settle for less.
CATHERINE RHEA ROY
This was a story that I just had to tell