Never judge a play by its name. And never ever trust a review thrashing a play. I’ve been to a lot of good plays over the last couple months where the performances were so good that writing positively about them tired me. I mean come on, there are only so many words you can use to describe the actors’ ‘conviction’, side kicks who were ‘poised and graceful’ and the set design that was ‘simple, yet telling’.
So it gives me great pleasure to write about Ice, Water Vapour, Smokingod’s latest play said to be inspired by Dharamvir Bharti’s critically acclaimed book, Gunhaon Ka Devta. An author, Suketu, moves into his new PG accommodation and meets Anuradha, a demure girl perfectly suited to playing one of the self-sacrificial cows they call bahus in K-serials. She finds herself in love with him after reading his new novel, Niyati, but is left disappointed when he proclaims that he can’t feel love for her or any other woman. Thus begins a tale of cruelty and hypocrisy.
The play description says it’s about the relationship between a writer and a reader. It isn’t. It’s about Suketu and Suketu. He can’t feel love, he says. “Haan, main ladki ke sath sex kar sakta hoon” but he can’t feel any other emotion. The play goes horribly wrong in the first 10 minutes itself because the dialogues and the characters are too clichéd and the direction is shoddy, leaving the actors looking awkward and taking very long pauses (5 seconds at one point) between each dialogue.
Drawing inspiration from all the plays I’ve ever watched, here’s my conclusive opinion of Ice, Water Vapour: The actors were terrible and completely unconvincing; An elaborate set doesn’t make up for the lack of substance in the play’s story line; perhaps a parallel plot might have saved this disaster. But on second thought, no, judging from the talent that went into producing it, nothing could have saved this play from being a shoddy disaster.