Most of the present day writers prefer to write in prose form and some try their hand at poetry. In this time when drama seems to have lost favor owing to the revolution of entertainment industry in filmmaking and online streaming, Sabarna Roy’s drama, “Abyss” serves the purpose of reminding the readers about the importance of the literary form of drama which can never be challenged by any form of entertainment. The playwright has definitely taken a risk in writing the serious and critical drama where the subject he explores may seem unacceptable to some people, yet that can be overlooked when the reader/audience tries to closely observe and understand the issues that the characters face.
An interesting, dramatic, mysterious and tragic two-act full length play with an interval in between, Roy has artistically juxtaposed the study and analysis of love, lust, jealousy, psychological complexities of humans, relationships, ambition and fight for survival. The playwright explores all these ideas with the help of strongly developed and life-like characters. The story of two generations is explored in detail in the drama through a few members of the families. With this the playwright also skillfully manages to shock the audience and create the element of suspense and mystery. Set in Kolkata in an undefined period of time, the play has very lively and realistic characters who appear to be closer to life and very humanly due to their behavior, their instincts and their acts.
The play is undisputedly a tragedy but this fact fades away because of the other ideas that the playwright goes on to explore. To pinpoint and decide on only one particular theme would not be absolute justice to the playwright’s craft. Roy explores different themes about the different forms of love: of a mother for her child, between a lover and beloved, between other immediate relatives. Other than that, the position of women in the society, the institution of marriage, the problems with writers, the levels to which a person’s selfishness can push him or her to.
Majorly 3 characters take up the prominent center stage. Debasree comes across as a strong, powerful woman with an iron will and headstrong ambition. At the same time, she also shows her motherly instinct through her love for her daughter, Oindrila. Her daughter appears to be a victim of circumstances and unfortunately unaware of the reason of things happening to her. In her desire to protect her daughter, Debasree at times appears to be a control freak who literally wants to make her daughter live on her terms. Perhaps the most complex of all the characters is Mriganka. In the opening scene he seems to be the ideal lover but as the play progresses, his character undergoes changes that are totally unexpected. How from a lover he becomes responsible for his beloved’s misery and also the person who led to her death is far from believable when the reader first meets him in the first scene. He is blunt, unsentimental and hard (at the emotional front). His past relationships are also not ordinary kind, nor are hi characters which he builds in his novels.
Other characters do not have such prominent roles and more or less make their respective contributions as time calls for it. The main narrative of the play is built up in the first four scenes of the play and only after that, the other characters appear on stage and perform their parts.
From the opening scene to the end of the play, the play has the ability to hold the audience and leave them guessing on the true story till the climax scene. More than surprising the reader, he is able to give jolts trying to suggest how dark people’s realities can be.
Since the playwright is an avid reader, the influence is clearly visible in his style of writing and the craft with which he creates scene after scene with each character. The air of mystery and something unusual is built up from the beginning and it goes on till the very end part. The title of the play, “Abyss” is a bit difficult to understand and interpret in the first place. But by inserting Renuka’s speech in the climax scene, the playwright ensures to justify the title and it seems appropriate and justified. Somewhere, Renuka becomes Roy’s mouthpiece and actually speaking what the playwright would say to the audience directly.
Due to the nature of content of the play, it is more worth watching for the elder grown up, mature people. For kids and teenagers, it would perhaps be a bit challenging to absorb the serious nature of the plotline. Since it is a drama, it would be more enjoyable when it is performed but reading it also manages to keep the flavor intact.