‘Kingdom of Cards’ musical a delight to watch


PALO ALTO, California:  EnActes elegant dance drama, “Kingdom of Cards” translated in English by William Radice, from “Tasher Desh”, penned by Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore in 1933 was presented at Cubberly Theater in Palo Alto, and is a delight to witness. The contemporary relevance of the musical views the role of tyranny and authoritarianism in society and the outcome when it is turned on its head which allows celebration of freedom of expression, thought and actions.

This presentation fits Enacte’s theme for this year “The Music in our Souls” like a glove. The bard that wrote this piece embraces both music and soul in his prolific writings, and director Ranjita Chakravarty does complete justice to the sentiments with some directorial liberties.DSC 3181

A restless adventure desiring Prince (Varun Arvind), suffocated by his regulated life, sets out to seek treasures in newness (“nobina”), and after being shipwrecked lands in a strange land of walking, talking card people who distrust foreigners. These lifeless puppets adhere to rules without comprehension and believe that free movement is dangerous. The clear parallel to a fascist regime in all its forms is unmistakable, and the audience is pulled into a satirical charade of a kingdom where even the king and his courtiers are bewildered by their own mindless rules. The Prince seizes the opportunity to strip this outward appearance and reveal the inner life of the denizens. In a somewhat Shakespearean manner, through playful mischief and chaos, the Prince, and his companion (Chaitanya Godsay) fill the heavy, somber air of the land with gaiety and laughter.

The precise box like movements, emotionless facial and vocal expressions executed flawlessly by the card ensemble depicted the controlled lives they led in the Kingdom of cards. Subtle changes appear in the demeanor, visage and attire of the cards once the Prince’s scrutiny forces them to realize their true selves – colorful scarves, headbands, smiles, laughter, freer movements, appreciation of nature, rebellion, and ultimately expressions of love at first subdued, then, bolder, even between women. Tagore came through again with women being the major change maker, starting with the Queen who blesses the Prince to go seek his passion, and then by the women citizens of the Kingdom of Cards, including their queen who falls under the spell of distraction too.

DSC 3043Vignettes of cavorting, frolicking, happily and easily transformed card people while pleasing would have benefited from brevity. A poignant moment with a card trio who defer to this change as there is fear of the sorrow that will become theirs upon conversion, peeks into the divided mindsets of the cards. Allowing innate desire to overcome the regimented existence brings about the final change.

Artistic elements are plentiful on stage – the swaying boat rides, including the raging storm choreographed by the talented Sanjib Bhattaharya, haunting music and songs with one liners in Bengali displayed a contemporary take on Tagore’s brilliance by Siddhartha Chattopadhyay preserved the authentic flavor. Pleasing transitions and anchor points moved the story gracefully to its conclusion. Art and reality are truly intertwined; each tells the story of the other in this charming production.DSC 3053

0 - 0

Thank You For Your Vote!

Sorry You have Already Voted!