ARTYFACTS: Nirbhaya (Edinburgh International Fringe)

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Nirbhaya (Edinburgh International Fringe)

A ripost (inspired the wrong word) by the Delhi rape in December 2012, five women give their rea, personal stories of child abuse, rape, rape within marriage, chuild abduction and being burnt by kerosene. Almost unbearably sad, most of the audience were tearful. Just as shocking as the sexual incidents were their testimonies about what it is like to experience daily groping and harassment in Delhi, on buses, in the street. Dystopian Delhi seems like some circle of hell.This is a fine piece of political theatre, a welcome change from most happy-clappy Fringe performances. However, there are two problems with the piece.
First, it’s all testimony, powerful as that is – there’s no further causal insight. It’s all WHAT and no WHY. I was desperate to know WHY a city had become a place where women had become objects of sexual amusement. But here I had to fill in the blanks myself – overcrowding, poverty, dysfunctional police force, lax laws, caste, religion, dowry, forced marriage? This is often a problem in theatre as it does not often deal well with detail and a plurality of causes.

Second, the last (fifth) testimony was a harrowing account of a gang rape in Chicago. I can see that they wanted to universalise or internationalise the issue but in doing so they diluted the essence of the story – its Delhi context 'the rape capital of India'. 


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