The Recognition of Sakuntala

This event has now finished. Until Feb 7 2009

© James Davies

Time Out says

This masterpiece of early Indian drama – written in around the fourth century by the great Sanskrit poet and playwright Kalidasa – was first translated into English in the 18th century, when Goethe also had the opportunity to read it in German and declared himself suitably wowed. Watching Tarek Iskander's economical but evocative adaptation, you can understand why.
Although it comes from a very different religious tradition, there's more than a hint of Shakespeare's late romances about the story, which is drawn from the Hindu epic 'The Mahabharata'. King Dusyanta is out hunting one day when he spies and falls in love with Sakuntala, the daughter of a celebrated ascetic. Before you can say Jack Robinson, the pair are married and Sakuntala is pregnant, but a curse laid by an irascible old sage and the unfortunate loss of a ring ensure that after a short separation the playboy-king is no longer able to recognise his gravid bride.
There are elements of pantomime in Iskander's staging – when Dusyanta (engagingly played by Dominik Kracmar) hears a woman singing and comments 'The melodic line is full of passion', you want to shout 'Oh no it isn't!' But cocky, callow Dusyanta's Leontes-like repentance is beautifully realised and this soufflé-light fairy tale suddenly becomes infused with psychological acuity and real feeling. Sometimes the formal elements of the presentation clash with its more colloquial strains, but as productions combining strong humour and demons with a poetic exploration of the links between erotic and religious love go, this is pretty good.

Union Theatre details

Union Theatre, 204 Union St, SE1 OLX

Union Theatre

Walk a little too fast along Union Street and you might well miss the entrance to this underground theatre. Housed in a former warehouse, and...

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