Indian Ink at the Roundabout Theater has lost all its color

Indian inkTom Stoppard’s Indian Ink is told over two time periods, the 1930’s and 1980’s.The play is about art, romance and politics. In the 1930’s racy Flora Crewe, having achieved some success as a poet leaves England and goes to India due to health reasons. There she meets and sits for an Indian painter, Nirad Das. The more contemporary story is about an American scholar’s obsession with Flora, whose notoriety has grown since her death. He interviews Flora’s younger sister Eleanor (now 80) to uncover the sordid details of Flora’s life. Eleanor suggests he continue his research in India. At the same time Nirad’s son, Asish Das, visits Eleanor seeking his own answers about the possible romantic relationship between his father and Flora.

I had originally seen this play in London and loved it. It was sultry, steamy, had a political undercurrent and was full of color – everything this production is not. The Roundabout Theater’s set was bland and lacked complexity and lushness. The romantic or psychic connection between the Nirad Das and Flora falls flat. Perhaps this was because Nirad Das comes across more like a cartoon character than a sexy Indian painter. And Flora, who went to India to nurse her tuberculosis, seems too spunky to be someone dying. Rosemary Harris, as the imperious Eleanor, was good except when she forgot her lines and Eldon Pike, the academic, was played as a buffoon. Can you tell I really didn’t like this production of Indian Ink? What was the director thinking?

In the play there’s an extended discussion of “rasa”, an Indian word for the overwhelming emotion you see or feel when you experience a work of art, and how every artist dreams of bringing rasa into his work. Well, The Roundabout’s production of Indian Ink seems to have removed all the rasa from Tom Stoppard’s play. This might have been why people walked out at intermission and even DURING the second act. LAR

Roundabout Theater, Laura Pels Theater, 111 W 46th Street. http://www.roundabouttheatre.org/

Tickets: $89, but discounts are available:

.Theatermania http://www.theatermania.com/off-broadway/discount-tickets/indian-ink_305390/ Code: INDTMAN1

.Papering services

Runs thru 11/28/14

Running time: 2 hours 45 minutes, with one 15-minute intermission

  Disappointing-half bag
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