Dramatech’s new production of Neil Simon’s “Plaza Suite” presented at Shri Ram Centre this past week was sleek and rich in comic situations evoking boisterous laughter. A most successful playwright in commercial theatre and winner of three Tony Awards and the Pulitzer Prize, American playwright Simon’s plays are frequently seen on the Hindi stage in Delhi. Dramatech has earlier produced his “Broadway Bound”. However, it is “The Good Doctor”, an adaptation of Anton Chekhov’s short stories, that is more popular with the Delhi audience than his commercially successful comedies. Among the brilliant productions of “The Good Doctor” is the one by veteran director Ranjit Kapoor.
Translated and directed by Nayana Sagar, “Plaza Suite” has three acts. The action is set in a hotel suite. Each act depicts amusing encounters between a man and his wife. The first act opens with the wife waiting for the arrival of her husband. The couple has shifted to the suite because their flat is being painted. From the wife’s movements and her conversation with the waiter, it is revealed that she is worried and unhappy, suffering from growing disenchantment with her conjugal life. She recalls that the suite she intends to spend the night with her husband in is the same in which the couple spent their honeymoon about 23 years back. She is not certain about the years and says the honeymoon might have taken place about 24 years ago.
The husband arrives but seems to be in a tearing hurry and too occupied with his official work to give any heed to his wife. His cold apathy forces her to engage in a heated discussion with him about their life as husband and wife. She suspects that he is having an affair with his young secretary. The sudden arrival of the secretary makes the comic conflict all the more complicated. After the perusal of files, the husband tells his wife that he has to rush to the office to attend to some emergency work. Despite the wife’s protests, the husband leaves the suite, leaving the bored and angry wife to reflect on her life, shattering her dream of spending a night in the suite with her husband. She is painfully aware that her marriage is now in tatters.
The act reflects that the bitter relationship between husband and wife has also ruined the lives of their children. It is also a comic exposure to the obsession of executives about eating a diet with minimal calories to retain their youth. Sonu Sonkar, as Sameer Singh, the husband and Kavita Seth as Moonmoon Singh, the wife, amuse the audience through their encounters.
(The second act, dealing with a Hollywood producer in search of a new sexual adventure after experiencing the frustration of three divorces, was edited out for brevity.)
The third act depicts the desperate efforts of a couple to persuade their daughter to join her wedding ceremony taking place downstairs. She has locked herself up in the bathroom of the hotel suite. She stubbornly rejects the request of her parents. The parents’ embarrassment becomes all the more intense with the repeated calls from downstairs to bring the bride immediately. An angry father even tries to break open the door of the bathroom and when he fails, he jumps out of the window and tries to reach the window of the bathroom, holding the water pipes. The mother and father vie with each other in persuading the daughter to come out of the bathroom. To enhance the atmosphere of suspense, the daughter does not utter a word.
The awkward situations, the comically effective use of slapstick and the constant pounding on the door of the bathroom, with the aggressive verbal duel between the couple make this act of the play a comic tour de force.
Ekant Kaul as Col. Sonu Kapoor, the father, and Nayana Sagar as Vyjayanthi Kapoor, the mother, enrich the comic element of the play with their performances.
One of the highlights of the production is the elegantly designed set by Priti Gupta and Vidisha Singhal which creates the right ambience of a suite in a famous hotel. The lighting effects and aesthetically placed properties lend grandeur to the ambience.