A woman alone: Nobel Prize winner Dario Fo's award winning 3 short plays
- Asma Menon, Chennai
e-mail: asmamenon@hotmail.com

April 24, 2010

Mithran Devanesen (a byword in the world of Theatre) and ANEW (a Social Economic Conscious NGO for Women)  presented to Chennai audiences, three solo plays at the Sivagami Pethachi Auditorium, on April 10 & 11, 2010. 

This was part of a drive for ANEW to raise funds for their ongoing non-traditional employment for women. Namely Car and Auto Driving/ Basic Computer Knowledge / Home Nursing /  TALLY and Accounting. Mithran was called in to put forward a proposal for a play to be staged. He then made a strong appeal to stage plays related to "The Woman," as it would be in keeping with the ethos of ANEW. 

Thus, A WOMAN ALONE shared her life with us as an audience. 3 women, 3 different situations and times, all with a distinct thread running through it. Mithran edited the plays to today and thereby brought the same "closer to home and hearth."

Rise and Shine
Starring our protagonist Nikhila Kesavan
Superwoman – juggling baby/husband/home/office…sounds familiar?


Well! Nikhila is so stressed out by multi-tasking her life that she is beginning to have dreams and nightmares about the next day and the day after, with her husband lying in deep sleep, completely oblivious to her state, taking for granted "his due as a man."
Nikhila wakes one morning, later than her schedule, only to rush through getting baby and herself ready. In the process, she is unable to find her house keys. While going back to the day before and the sequence of events that will help her trace the trajectory of her missing keys, we also hear the trajectory of her life as super mom/wife/woman tired out even before the day has begun. One can feel the empathy that she brings forth with panache sans self pity to her situation. Where will she go from here, is the question. At the end of her solo, Nikhila finds that she has been rushing around on a Sunday! Her joy knows no bounds when she realizes that having fed the baby and changed diapers thrice, she can crawl back into bed and sleep.

Wish Mithran had placed a squeaky toy on the bed, so when she gets back to rest she is reminded by accidentally squeaking the toy and chucking it out, that "yes, she needs to chuck some things out."

Starring Mahitha Suresh; Chorus – Anjaly, Punya & Neeta
Jason, her husband leaves her for a younger woman…sounds familiar?

Mahitha Suresh as Medea
Mahetha, Punya, Neeta & Anjaly in MEDEA

Her first time on stage and what a performance! Medea is still a beautiful woman, graceful, articulate and yet without a blink of an eye, she is abandoned. Men pause. How true is that phrase! 

The Chorus of 3 women, who are her friends, hear that she plans on killing her children and go out with a bang rather than a whimper. The stark set and lighting, not to forget the staffs used to emphasis a point, all bring together Mithran’s directorial finesse. Mahitha appeals to women to stand up and make a statement, even if it means cutting your heart out. The price is heavy, being a woman - hence "watch me roar."
The silver masks of the Chorus are akin to the 3 moon goddesses shining with the ebb and flow of lights. The vibrations of waves reach out to the audience as we gasp at the significance of Medea’s act to be remembered – a woman scorned.

A woman alone
Starring Indrani Krishnaiyer

Indrani in A WOMAN ALONE

We theatre buffs know Indrani. Her gusto fits ‘A Woman Alone.’ We are initially beguiled by her suburban attitude only to find out that she is full of surprises. Her company is the sound of music. As each door opens and closes, one hears the blasting of different music. 

As Indrani irons her husband’s clothes and speaks to the neighbor through her window, she unravels her life of being locked in by her spouse. We discover that a young man teaching her Italian, had fallen in love with her and paid her the attention she has craved for all her life. On finding out her peccadillo, the husband bans her from leaving the house and constantly calls her up to find out if she is at home. Also not to forget the other neighbor who is constantly watching her through his binoculars – "The Wanker" as she calls him.

Indrani does a great "Twinkle Toes" and a wiggle to her body with a sultry look over her shoulder and rolls her eyes. When her husband calls her, her whole body language turns coy.

She is simply amazing as she juggles the phone/the iron/and her brother-in-law (who shares the apartment with them) who literally blows the trumpet every time he needs her attention in more ways than one. Finally, Indrani takes matters into her own hands. She rushes and drops her wheelchair bound brother-in-law down the stairs, picks up the rifle and shoots "the Wanker" and then awaits her husband’s return home!

Indrani never loses a minute of the momentum. It is exhausting just watching her put together the split second role changes and voice. Kudos to Mithran for getting the right actor to pull off this complex solo piece.

Asma Menon is an artist who lives and works in Chennai. She incorporates in her art the most diverse features fusing them in a powerful visual result, from primitive almost pre-symbolic repetitive strokes to highly sophisticated mythological quotations.