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Love’s labour lost

Self-flagellation is what a man finds ecstasy in when he desperately tries to evade the marriage trap ~ a beautiful young fiancé and a settled life in Italy. Nothing is known of the man except that he is from Kanpur with big-city dreams, a BBC filmmaker, who finally on the verge of getting married decides to visit his former girlfriends whom he suspects he might not have treated all that well. Some Girl(s) (second play of the Odeon Theatre Festival staged at GD Birla Sabhagar) originally written by famous playwright Neil LaBute and adapted for Indian stage by Akarsh Khurana is about a narcissist who tries to right the wrongs with old flames and keeps getting burned.

Nadir Khan’s direction has kept, if not heightened, the self-stroking smugness of LaButa’s play whose male characters typically whisper, “Oh, guys, we’re bad, bad, bad — jerks, lowlife, pond scum.” The crew with Mukul Chadda, Shivani Tanskale, Juhi Pande, Tarana Raja Kapoor and Radhika Mittal weaves the story in a hotel room in four Acts. Each in which the only unfair sex in the play meets the women he has “fucked over”. After a simple woman, now married, who he had dumped just before the prom night, enters a carefree and bold jewellery designer with whom he experimented with love after ending the spell of “eternity thing”.

Next comes a professor who is never wrong, more so after having caught with a man whom her husband had given a break, a man who was lost in the city, overwhelmed with the burden of his own dreams. And finally, the vivacious one who was capable of taking life as a joke and for whom the man felt something closer to love if he knew the meaning of it.

After the entire ruckus this scumbag creates in the lives of the women who had tried their all to support him, the name of the play is Some Girl(s) since all the women in his life were forced to a collective identity. The man decides to visit “some girls” in his life since he wanted to steer clear of the baggage he had been carrying all along before he gets married to “some girl”.

Polished with a mix and match of humour and irony, even the characters one would think unsuitable for theatre put forth a moving performance, so lively and casual as if it’s a story unfolding at your neighbours flat.

The journey the protagonist had ‘embarked’ on from eternity (with his first girlfriend), to adventure (the sexual plaything), being lost in the city and finding support in the matured confident professor, and the woman he finally begs to marry him doesn’t end. Instead, it continues with more chits carrying names of other woman in his life he sets out to have a short meeting after he is snubbed by these, who suffered the pangs of being cheated by a man as low and pitiful as him.

He in the process delivers them of their baggage by being the subject of their revenge ~ light as that of the housewife or harsh like the professor. The emotional terrorist sets out for some more blast from the past leaving the audience in a laughter riot.

Soma Basu

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