A dose of feminism spiced with humour

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Confidently, the solo actor walks down the stage with a flashlight in her hand to introduce the audience to the maze that she will be taking them inside.

 Soon she climbs back up and then describes what she sees at each step so that the tourists (i.e. audience in this case) can also take notice of the pink coloured walls, the confusing alleys and narrow passages. Interestingly, this was no maze, but the description of the female reproductive organ!

Shocked? Well, exactly the same feeling of the audience present at ML Bhartia Auditorium, Alliance Française when Eva Darlan presented her monologue Crue et Nue (Crude and Nude), the much awaited performance of the popular French film and TV actor. More so, because of Darlan’s affiliation to feminism and the fact that the play is based on her book, by the same name.

Those who haven’t read the book need not worry. The thespian devises a wonderful script and enacts it with intelligent light and sound for the audience to comprehend the play even in the absence of prior knowledge of the story. The play can be described as Darlan’s own experiences with the body where she invites other women and asks them to explore their own bodies as well. All this, she presents with impressive facial expressions and use of simple props.

Starting from her childhood, she imitates her mother and repeats the notions set by women for other women of the society. References to being refused to play outside her house, the touch of her father and brothers vis a vis the man she meets one night accidently and discussing every minute detail of her friend’s sex life are made in the first part of the performance. These point towards the hypocrisies of a society that fetters women through different means.

But all this is done with a heavy dose of humour. 

Intelligently woven remarks about her feet (by an elderly woman) and hand (by the man who admires her) definitely create humour. Darlan goes on to pick up each part of the feminine form --from the hair to the nails--and dissects them with comments made in general by others. In the process, she paints a stark image of the ‘conventional parameters’ within which a ‘beautiful woman’ has to fit in!

On the contrary, Darlan expresses that she is OK with having “old woman’s hands”, “Latin feet”, “thin hair” and everything opposite to the definition of a ‘beautiful woman’! All this is enacted in front of the mirrors that are glued to the inner walls of a closet. The minute she opens the closet door, these mirrors reflect not just light but also a woman’s desire to be loved the way she is and the way she wants to.

Darlan’s long discourse on the ‘heels’ proves that these were invented to tame a female so that she couldn’t run. Also, her chronological description of the shape of a woman’s breasts dating from 1900 to 1990 makes one analyse the politics of this patriarchal world where herd mentality doesn’t take time to become the ‘trend’.Dialogues such as “To enjoy is always an obligation” and “My body is a multinational which is making millions of people work” don’t need a context to be explained.

 These infuriate all women and even men in the audience. Especially the mention of the condition of women following Islam, and those who are trafficked and pushed to pursue prostitution is appalling. Yet, the actor manages to infuse a comic element in her performance right till the end. May be this is why her message reaches the audience’s heart more effectively. 

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