Reader Alert: I have done brief book reviews earlier, may be because I manage to write a few lines which later take the shape of either a short story or a poetry. But this will be my first play review.
Let me just say it out loud: I’m scared of theater artists.
Their energy sends shivers down my spine. It’s intimidating. I have scripted, narrated, and directed a few plays in my school time, but none later. And don’t we all know just how much school times count here?! 😀
So, this is what I feel –
“If you can’t do it yourself, if you don’t know what goes into the making of a product (product here means, a play), then you should not comment how it was, or what could have made it better.” Still, the one I watched today, moved me, and as you can see, compelled me to write about it.
What follows from here, is not a theater play review, but what I “felt” as an earnest audience.
A brief about the play
”Not a play, or a drama, or even a farce. They are bits and pieces of reality that fly through the air and land on us, eliciting wry smiles and uncomfortable admissions.”
Whoever wrote this description, is certainly a genius, for the play turns out to be exactly that.
Female orgasm, a ‘fleeting’ physical phenomenon associated with the ‘act’ and described as a ‘release’ of tension, comes cloaked up in unusual forms in this play.
Disquieting you. Scene by scene.
What made me pay 300 bucks for an 85 minutes watch
First, I was invited by Sonamm Sharma, a stunning actress I met through a friend. (The meeting was brief and she probably doesn’t remember me.) However, even after months of her last play, I can not stop raving about her performance in Medea, another mind-blowing play. (I’m saving all my appreciation for her next show) So, you know it was like – when an actor calls, the fan follows.
Second, it was a product of Saanjha Sapna, a production house known for its power packed and socially relevant plays.
Third, the director, Kanchan Ujjal Singh. I had watched two versions of the same play, Medea, and I knew the lady is one to watch out for. I was curious to see what more can she do after Medea.
And finally, the concept – Orgasm. I do not need to describe the strength or appeal of this word. Top that with the current wave of feminism and women rights all over India. In short, I HAD to go.
How the play made my day
Me and my colleague, Namrata, were expecting a “sold out” board at the ticket window, so we reach Alliance Francaise an hour early in order to manage two seats for ourselves. However, we found numerous seats waiting even when the first performance had begun. Delhi disappointed me.
Anyway, we fixated our attention to the first monologue, “Waking up“, by Priyanka Lulla. For the first ten minutes, I felt it was over enactment on her part. Though gradually, as she went on to develop the character, I realized, she is playing a-modern-worrier-yet-a-warrior woman, and this is how she is supposed to be. As the layers are peeled off, her character becomes all the more real.
My favourite part: “I cried, he blamed himself. The more he blamed himself, the more I cried. And it felt so good.” (Don’t remember the exact words, but something like that.)
A tale of every working woman, in love with her family and work, trying her best to hold things together while keeping track of her door keys – Nailed!
Lights go dim. Music track changes. Audience applauds.
I was a bit surprised to see the same stage setting for the second monologue, but that happens a lot in plays. “A Woman Alone“, enacted by Sonali Sharma, begins with a woman ironing clothes with Katy Perry singing in the background. The gentle-looking lady, Maria, is found dressed up in a simple apron. And a deceiving smile. She is funny, gentle, and trapped – physically, inside her own house, and virtually, in the ideal society created for her as a woman and a wife.
What churns out of all of this is an amusing foxtrot of insanity and blabbering, sweetened by the fabulous use of body language and soured by an uncomfortable spotlight on a woman’s physical needs.
My favorite part: All of it! Well, if I had to choose one, it’d be the ending scene. Watch it, and you’ll know why.
Once again, lights dimmed and music track changed. The amphitheater fills with giggles and claps.
When the lights turn on once again, we find a girl sitting on a chair with legs spread apart and her back facing the audience. This one is “We all have the same story” and the sultry girl in boxers is Debontika Das. A candid monologue on a woman’s love for making love, with bits of solo action and positions. Her personal journey through the play and her little wolf story – total knock-down!
What begins as a story of a successful, career oriented woman, climaxes with that of a mother. Bold, unhinging and, in many ways, stamping a question on your face – What can make things change?
My favorite part:“He is smoking outside, tensed.”
Lights dimmed. Track changed. And bravos.
The fourth and final monologue, “The Rape“, is presented by the director, Kanchan Ujjal Singh herself, where she plays a rape victim and recalls the horrifying act. Her story too, leaves you with yet another question on rape and how we treat a rape victim – Wasn’t once enough?
A terrific performance, though not as chilling as it was, I guess, intended to be.
My favorite part:“The radio has stopped blaring. Why? Because I was not screaming?”
She slowly walks off into the darkness and her body fades away with the dimming lights. After a few moments of jolting-back-to-reality silence, the theater is blown up with applause.
So, how Orgasmic was it?
Priyanka’s character happily gives in to her husband and family and routine. She is being depicted as a sweet woman while Debontika’s plays a strong, modern, working woman who knows what she wants from life. Yet, when it came to her child, we find her feeling helpless.
The last girl, after being stripped by four men, decides not to let it repeat inside those four walls where she is supposed to feel safe. And then there is Maria, who is stripped off of all emotions, but rage.
I loved how the sensitive and the hushed-up topic of “orgasm” was handled and showcased in different lights and settings. The way it subtly laces every monologue, grows up, bit by bit, and evolves as the star of the evening, is truly marvellous.
I just wished that, like Maria, all the other three protagonists would have stood up for themselves too. For me, that would have sent a stronger message.
Nonetheless, it’s the director’s perspective, and her way of delivering a tight yet silent slap. No matter what kind of treatment she gave the play, she clearly compelled me to write about it.
Overall: Not so orgasmic, But it’ll definitely “titillate” a part or two.
P.S. – I am not a feminist. If my post makes you feel so, do let me know how is that MY problem.
Disclaimer – This post was originally published on my last blog, Insane Business, whose domain somebody bought off before I could convince myself for regular blogging. I just imported, edited and re-published it here.