Watch a play in Bengaluru: Susanto Banerjee’s ‘The Flame’ is a mystery involving complex relationships


As the curtains rise in Jagriti Theatre, the aroma of anticipation for a dramatic voyage enshrouds the audience in Bengaluru. Ventures Theatre Group is ready to reignite the theatrical scene with Susanto Banerjee’s direction of ‘The Flame’ – a play that discerningly interweaves a rich tapestry of tradition, change, and the essence of self-definition. The promise of ‘The Flame’ is a thought-provoking blend of depth and timelessness, an adaptation of a story that first bloomed under the authorship of English playwright Somerset Maugham, before being transplanted into the fertile cultural soils of Bengal by Tirthankar Chanda, and now, recast into English by Debleena Roy.

Since its inaugural performance in 2016, ‘The Flame’ has encountered the spotlight over 15 times, each staging contributing to its legacy as an enigmatic piece that captivates and confronts its audience. Susanto Banerjee’s interpretative eye replies to Maugham’s art with finesse. “The adjustments I’ve made aim to sharpen the play’s focus, removing redundancies and ensuring coherence without disrupting the narrative flow,” Banerjee expresses. It is his artful precision to detail that magnifies the dialogue and narrative structure for heightened clarity and captivation, safeguarding the play’s core spirit and its impact, which has drawn success and acclaim in its earlier showings.

Susanto’s first encounter with the Bengali version of the play left an indelible impression on him. “The narrative that unfolds an evening conversation revealing complex relationships and a mystery, all set against an Indian backdrop, deeply engaged me,” he recalls. His guidance of ‘The Flame’ is imbued with a pursuit for universality – participating in the grand tradition of classical epics while maintaining an undeniably modern beat.

Banerjee decisively maintains that ‘The Flame’ still speaks to the contemporary heart, particularly in its exploration of relationships and the central enigma that progresses throughout the tale. The duality present is what furnishes the piece’s charm, serving as a canvas to ponder the divergences between the traditional and the novel ways of life. Through his direction, Susanto strives to “accurately convey its complex layers,” adeptly weaving the intricate human connections and the decisive moments that shape our being. His methodology revolves around capturing the audience’s full immersion – a testament to his belief that the viewers’ engagement is a pivotal responsibility.

In rendering the script, Banerjee leaned towards a nuanced approach. Enhancing clarity through minor edits and additions, he remains steadfast to the original storyline. “The essence and core layers of the story remain unchanged,” he states, proving his dedication to the play’s authenticity. To breathe fresh life and offer a renewed point of view, Banerjee involved others in production. He invited critics to scrutinize the script and incorporated their feedback, leading to minor yet crucial modifications to the script’s originality.

Augmenting Susanto’s directorial vision, Raag Urs orchestrates the lighting and Gerry Ambrose composes the music, each adding their expertise to create an ambience that underlines the play’s emotional resonance and philosophical underpinning.

‘The Flame’ ignites at Jagriti Theatre, Whitefield, Bengaluru on February 24, with performances scheduled for 3:30 pm and 7:30 pm. The allure of mystery and the intricacies of relationships await those who seek to unravel the depths ‘The Flame’ offers. Tickets are available on bookmyshow.com, inviting one and all to partake in this dramatic journey that brilliantly bridges traditional storytelling with modern relatability, ensuring an evening of reflection and riveting theatre.

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