Very often, I come across good plays that cannot be performed because nobody would come to see them; they are either too grim or too niche,” says director Feisal Alkazi, who, with the dexterity of a seasoned troubleshooter, is getting around this challenge by starting a theatre series, ‘Razor Edge’, to present “provocative plays from across the world”.
The curtain raiser, ‘Attempts on Her Life’, is an unconventional, postmodern play in which British playwright, Martin Crimp has rejected a linear narrative and presented the idea of multiple identities in every person.
“All of us have various identities drawn from different aspects of our lives that exist together. In the first scene of the play, the audience gets a hint about Anne (the central protagonist) from messages left on her answering machine. These are from her boyfriend, her lover, a man who is exploiting her sexually, her friend and her mother, among others,” says Alkazi. The 80-minute play comprises eight scenes that are “completely unrelated and characters from one never appear in the other”.
From the second scene, characters talk about their experiences with Anne and an image begins to emerge of her but the diffused outlines never become clear — she is a friend of a girl who has been a victim of ethnic cleansing, she is a terrorist accused of bombing, she is the daughter of parents who are worried about her safety, and she is a part of the pornographic industry.
Alkazi’s plays, such as ‘Keep Tightly Closed in a Cool Dark Place’ and ‘People Like Us’ are social dramas as much as relationship stories and ‘Attempts on Her Life’ gets the same treatment, with the addition of being “a play that deals deeply with the male gaze, the way we look and justify everything”. The music ranges from Arabic songs to live music to gypsy beats and music by French composer Claude Debussy.
The cast comes from regulars of Alkazi’s theatre group, Ruchika, such as Radhika Alkazi, Sanjiv Desai, and Smita Majumdar Rajaram. “The play has been provocative for the actors as well. There are many associations related to Kosovo, Kashmir and the political situation in Iraq,” says Alkazi.
Attempts on Her Life will be staged at the India International Centre on Friday. Entry: Free.