Disconnect Review - Worth Calling Long Distance For

Debargo Sanyal, Behzad Dabu, and Minita Gandhi

Playing in Lincoln Park’s Victory Garden is a wonderful little play set in a part of India that does its best to pretend to be Chicago.  At least the fourth floor of this India does.  Other floors pretend to be other states in an effort to recapture as much debt as possible on behalf of True Blue Helium Credit Card.  Directed by Ann Filmer and written by Anupama Chandrasekhal, Disconnect traces the efforts of the twenty-something year old workers who are engaged in an endless dance with the debt laden Americans on the other end of the line.  It is an Epcot-like world where the more American you seem, the better your job chances.  And the greatest compliment to pay someone here is to call them white.  It is against this backdrop that the characters ultimately reach a greater understanding of the limits to American culture.

Kamal J. Hans and Debargo Sanyal

Disconnect here not only refers to a disconnection between cultures.  There is also a significant disconnect between generations as the play begins with manager Avinash being demoted by his boss from the “hot” New York floor to the more passive Illinois focused cubicles.  Avinash's boss, played deftly by Arya Daire, attempts to keep the office fun through a liberal use of smiley stickers while all the time playing her youth as an asset.  Avinash, as others are quick to remind him, is someone from the last century and has little use for corporate niceties (or even pop for that matter).  He does not want to be liked, just respected.  Once settled in to his new “region,” Avinash begins a futile attempt at shaping his employees into an image of an Older India where rules are tight and collectors always follow the manual. 

Minita Ghandi

Debargo Sanyal, Behzad Dabu, and Minita Gandhi

Acting as a near constant thorn to Avinash is Ross (played exceptionally well by Debargo Sanyal) who is a natural at mimicking the accents and mannerisms of middle-America.  Referred to as a “Super Collector,” Ross is able to foster phone relationships that leave the intended eager to chip in to erasing his share of the debt.  This role is the most pivotal one of the play and Debargo Sanyal does a great job here of keeping the audience off balance.  When Ross becomes a little too attached to one target, you can be sure there will be some static.  Left to sort out some of this static are his co-workers Minita Ghandi (Vidya) and Behzad Dabu (Giri).  Both actors excel at injecting humor and drama at critical junctures in the play.  Kamal J. Hans also puts in a nuanced performance at the not immediately likeable Avinash who really does try (and often fails) to better fit in. 

Debargo Sanyal and Behzad Dabu

Disconnect is not completely flawless.  Coming in at almost two hours, this one act play at times felt a little long.  A few plot points also felt more than a little predictable.  But I left Victory Gardens with a better appreciation for the men and women at the other end of the world who play in the shadows of our corporate society.  I only wish they did a better job of settling insurance disputes.

Debargo Sanyal and Kamal J. Hans

Bottom Line:  Disconnect is highly recommended for its excellent acting and thought provoking script.  It is currently playing at Victory Garden (2433 N. Lincoln Avenue) through February, 27th (Thursday through Saturday at 7:30; Saturday at 4; Sundays at 3).  Tickets range from $35 to $50.  To purchase tickets, click here:  www.victorygardens.com  For more information related to this and other shows, click here www.theaterinchicago.com 

Photos by:  Michael Brosilow


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