by Anupama Chandrasekharb.
Royal Court Theatre (Jerwood Theatre Upstairs) Sloane Square SW1W 8AS To 20 March 2010.
Mon-Sat 7.45 Mat Sat 4pm .
then Unit 215 Elephant and Castle Shopping Centre.
4pm 1, 3 April.
7pm 31 March,3 April.
Runs 1hr 30min No interval.
TICKETS 020 7565 5000.
www.royalcourttheatre.co.uk (all performances).
Review: Carole Woddis 23 February.
A cry from the call-centre.
There’s no other playwright who has her finger on the repercussions of global capitalism and the digital revolution than Anupama Chandrasekhar.
Nurtured through Elyse Dogson’s Royal Court International Department, she first shot to prominence two years ago with Free Outgoing, an explosive account of the affect of mobile technology on young people in today’s India.
Disconnect sees her honing in once again, this time on call centres – a subject admittedly already covered by Robert Lepage and Simon McBurney in recent years. But Chandrasekhar brings it home on more a powerful level by making it personal and contrasting the ease of inter-continental connection with its all too tempting deceits and temptations. Behind Disconnect lies, too, the ever present monster of Profit, Debt and consumer spending. The play’s title is very much about the disconnection between public profit and private dreams.
Chandrasekhar’s protagonists this time are a young team of call centre operators, closeted in a windowless room in Chennai, India where their sole object in gruelling 10-hour shifts is to claw back payments from Americans who have over-spent on their credit cards.
The sheer drudgery is acutely caught in Indhu Rubasingham’s production, where over the space of 90 minutes very little scenic action takes place within four walls plastered in credit card statements, other than shifting the position of desks. Little real life penetrates this fake world of American accents and districts.
Illusions, like computer viruses, can be contagious. Chandrasekhar shows, in a series of short, sharp scenes, the inextricable links between two nations and their contrasting resources. Ross (Nikesh Patel), the brightest of the `outsource’ operators becomes obsessed with one of his `customers’ in Chicago. To retrieve the company’s money, these operators have to deeply enter into the lives of their clients. Ross mistakes the boundaries with disastrous results.
Disconnect suffers perhaps from an over abundance of issues which also include ageism, inter-generational tensions and sexual attraction. Yet, beautifully performed in Rubasingham’s production, alive to every nuance, the outcome is still devastating. A snapshot of global capitalism’s cut-throat effect on personal lives was never so sobering or affecting.
Avinash: Paul Bhattacharjee.
Jyothi: Hasina Haque.
Vidya: Ayesha Dharker.
Girl: Neet Mohan.
Ross: Nikesh Patel.
Director: Indhu Rubasingham.
Designer: John Napier.
Lighting: Oliver Fenwick.
Sound: David McSeveney.
Fight arranger: Bret Yount.