The enigmatic production of Gauhar Jaan- The Datia Incident is currently being shown at the cosy 90-seat Omnibus Theatre, in Clapham Common, South West London. This play transports you back in time in an era that was illusive to our modern day technology and high-tech music equipments.
Set in British India, Fred Gaisberg travels from the west, making his way to the shores of India, to capture exotic sounds of the East to be played on the new machine, the gramophone. He also sets out to record the melodious voice of the young, beautiful courtesan, Gauhar Jaan, who is not only known for her exquisite voice and beauty, but also for her unbearable arrogance.
Along the way, Fred encounters several strangers who recite their own version of the Datia incident, in which Gauhar Jaan indulges in an intense battle of egos with Maharaja Bhawani Singh Bahadur.
The play was full of captivating performances from talented actors who were more than believable as the characters they portrayed on stage. Sheetal Kapoor, who essayed the role of Gauhar Jaan, oozed confidence and zest on stage, who portrayed both grace and arrogance at ease.
Be it Harmage Singh Kalirai as Maharaja Bhawani Singh Bahadur; Jordon Kemp as Fred Gaisberg; Jas Steven Singh who portrayed several parts; Devesh Kishore as Bakshi Saheb; or the three beautiful Kathak dancers, each and everyone essayed their role to the T.
The first-half of the play engrosses you completed. However, the latter part of the play was rather fast and leaves several questions unanswered. A slightly longer second-half showing Gauhar Jaan's musical journey with Fred Gaisberg would have made this beautiful play perfect. But nevertheless, I was left extremely mesmerised by the overall package and would highly recommend this play as one to definitely watch.