Sakuntala in London – a review


The Recognition of Sakuntala 

21st January 2009

 Union Theatre, Waterloo, London 

 Serena Ansell

 According to Will Johnson, the translator of this play by Kalidasa, The Recognition of Sakuntala is one the ‘best known classical Sanskrit dramas’ and one that the director of this production has compressed from four to two hours in order to make it more accessible to a Western audience. Written in the fourth century it retells a moving love story from the Mahabharata between a king and a young girl living in the forest with her foster father.

The action is delivered by the ten actors in a mixture of verse and prose, much of which suggests the beauty of Sanskrit descriptive language.  The director, Tarek Iskander, has ensured that the play is more naturalistic than its Sanskrit original and thus less dependent upon unfamiliar theatrical conventions.

As a piece of theatre it worked gradually upon the audience and in the second act one felt noticeably far more drawn in and emotionally involved. This was in great part due to the actor, Guy Moore, who played Sakuntala’s father and the beggar who cursed her with maturity and gravitas.

As a taster for Sanskrit literature and as a powerful but deceptively simple love story this production is worth seeing.

The Recognition of Sakuntala is on at the Union Theatre, Waterloo, London, until 7th February.  For tickets, call the box office on 0207 261 9876.

For the Time Out review (for which the play won 4 stars) click here:


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