Kolkata saw two masterpieces from the West presented in brilliant adaptations within a spell of one week. First, there was a classic, Death of a salesman, by Arthur Miller (1915-2005), the acerbic controversial figure of the American theatre in the twentieth century, whose razor-sharp wit could make him comment: There are two things most common in this world, the first is hydrogen and the second is stupidity. Coming before him almost by a century had been an epic saga, Father, by August Strindberg (1849-1912), the Swedish playwright, who combined psychology and naturalism in a new kind of European drama that evolved into Expressionist drama. Described variously as "neurotic, reactionary, religious and fragmented", the world of performing arts learnt from Strindberg sexual madness, fluidity of form and the power of dreams. Poles opposite from Miller, Strindberg also had written about sex with absolute realism, dramatizing the compound of love, hate, fury and desire that characterizes random couplings and permanent relationships. If Henrik Ibsen - the other Scandinavian celebrity playwright of the time -- caught the tensions of the night before, Strindberg revealed the acrid taste of the morning after. In summary, the two plays, showcased in this metropolis, provided an excellent contrast of dramatic study across the span of one century.
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