This new play looks at the aftermath of the Gujarat riots
‘The Cockroach Collector,’ might sound a tad unsavoury to those with a phobia of creepy crawlies, but its director, Anju Alva Naik, who also plays the lead role, is quick to assert that the 60-minute play will have audiences gripped throughout. “The plot is interesting and there is so much happening, right from the beginning until the last minute. People won’t realise where all that time went,” she begins.
Written by Delhi-based playwright, Anushka Ravishankar, as a reaction to the 2002 Gujarat riots, the issue is dealt with through the story of a highly dysfunctional family. “The mother, or Ma, as she’s called in the play is quite eccentric, while Mano (my character), collects cockroaches. Mano’s sister, Alka, is seemingly the sane one and has a boyfriend, Amit who is trying to find a place in the fabric of the
family,” reveals Naik. As the curtains open, the audience is transported into the home of Mano, where her mother and sister are discussing her obsession with cockroaches and Amit’s fear of them. “From what’s going on, we
realise that the mother behaves like a child, and Alka takes on the role of the responsible adult,” explains the director. As the play progresses, the reason behind Mano’s bizarre obsession is revealed, and Amit tries to piece things together from what he has learnt. At a subliminal level, it is said to be disturbing, as it gets quite violent at the end. It also raises questions about the country and non violence,
without giving away any answers. “Essentially, it’s a dark comedy, with themes that range from denial, the state of minorities in India, ghetto-isation and identity issues,” she says, in conclusion.April 22-23 (8 pm), April 24 ( 3 pm, and 6.30 pm). At Jagriti Theatre, Whitefield. Tickets (`300). Details: jagrititheatre.com
— Rashmi Rajagopal Lobo