‘Lights Out’

The name of the latest English play I went to watch yesterday evening.

English plays come far in between and to witness one is pure delight. Although there is a limited audience who actually come out to witness and appreciate good theater, there is a sense of excitement and at the same time an apprehension-of-sorts of what to expect when there is one showing at your nearest auditorium.
Most plays stick around to the romance-comedy genre, but what when it gets a little more serious? ..and it forces to make you think?

One such was a play I witnessed yesterday evening, a little over an hour or so, it goes by the name ‘Lights Out’ by Manjula Padmanabhan
Padmanabhan’s Lights Out is based on an eye witness account; the incident which took place in Santa Cruz, Mumbai, 1982.

Leela is worried about the crime that takes place every night in her neighbor’s compound. The fear in her is so much that she cannot sleep at night when her husband Bhaskar is away. He dismisses her plea of complaining to the police as he cannot get involved and the police would not take necessary action.

The play opens, revealing the drawing-dinning area of a sixth floor apartment of a building in Bombay, inhabited by a middle class family. The focal point of the space is a large window suggesting the roof top of the neighboring building. The building is under construction with walls still not dis-tempered and windows without glasses. The building has a chowkidar but not the owner of the building. Some suspicious activities of gang rape have been going on at least for a week but no one takes any action to stop the crime going on in the building. The bizarre sounds of a woman is heard in the third and last scene in the play. The sound is truly ragged and unpleasant. The sound begins with distinct words: “let me go! Help me!” and it ends into general screaming and sobbing.

..and then to top it all, there was a discussion that followed the play. Though, I didn’t stay for the discussion (or at-least not more than 5 minutes) I wish I had. It was a play with a difference. I did enjoy the acting, the dialogues and the script on the whole. I’ve always been a fan of the theater. While Manjula’s play may be a tad different to the otherwise normal ‘romcoms’ one witnesses on stage, I wouldn’t mind watching another one from her, maybe ‘Harvest‘, that’s another play she’s done apparently.

Lights Out appears to be more in the nature of a discussion play. It is an ugly face of urban society that has been effectively mirrored through this play.

Some plays just ought to be watched. I’m glad I did.

P.S: The video (in parts) of which can be found on YouTube, if you’d like to see how it goes. Though there’s a totally different feeling of watching it LIVE.

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