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Disturbing the prison ego: Bundelkhand Ki Virgin Machhlian

A detention camp in Bundelkand Ki Virgin Machhlian took me to the last chapter of "The Unnamable" by Samuel Beckett.

"Enormous prison, like a hundred thousand cathedrals. Never anything else any more, from this time forth. And in it, somewhere, perhaps - riveted, tiny - the prisoner. How can he be found?

How false this space is! What falseness instantly, to want to draw that round you, to want to put a being there! A cell would be plenty."

Yes, a cell (detention camp) was plenty in Bundelkand Ki Virgin Machhlian but badly plenty; a grotesque, macabre plenty. Scattering and penetrating one another for existential space, celebrating love and a mannequin; was the tale brought to life by Qissa Kothi at The Cuckoo Club.

A projection screen to the back with Chotta Bhim put forth a promising production at the alternative space.

The imagery of the prisoners was funny, irritating and Bikram-Betal like. It kept you attached to the stage: guys with long white hair; it disturbed you. The male protagonist had a much-practised-theatre-voice and you did want to hear him out. Arpita Banerjee with a scowling-screech was a formidable presence.

The play succeeds in disturbing you in the scenes: eating, the assault scene. The case of using a live camera stream was kind of hybridish theatre. An interesting curation of technology and theatre devices.

But, it also felt that the piece has to grow, it has not grown enough.

A smell of the Naxalite struggle is palpable in the piece which did influence the writer Loknath Bhatacharya. The protagonist of the play is a writer who is befuddling his life with filling pages. All are in the quagmire of no identity, clothes, relationship, memory and language. The protagonist is switching roles between the writer, reader and the listener.

The play is an interesting experiment!

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