Those hilarious in-laws

A rib-tickling drama on the dynamics between mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law will be staged

Inner Laws was written by Poile Sengupta, an award-winning playwright, way back in 1994. Even after so many years, the play continues to have a universal appeal. The play will be staged once again in the city.

Theatre for Change and Urban Chaupaal will stage Inner Laws, directed by Devasish Singhal. The play is a satirical sit-com, revolving around five mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law. Theatre actor and teacher/counsellor Sujatha Balakrishnan, founder of Theatre for Change, says she was familiar with the play much earlier. And the theme of the mother-in-law and daughter intrigued her. “When I was doing my masters in psychology in the early 2000s, I read psychoanalyst Sudhir Kakar’s The Inner World, which goes beyond the clichéd mother-in-law and daughter-in-law relationship. In the book, he writes about the ‘maternal enthralment theory’, which is about the mother-son relationship in Indian families. He writes that this theory revolves around how the son looks upon the mother as an authoritarian position. This relationship affects the mother-daughter-in-law relationship and other relationships,” says Sujatha, who does theatre that addresses social issues.

Sujatha decided to stage Inner Laws as it is a rib-tickling comedy, which has a positive message. “The content of the play is fabulous. It is a laugh riot. Only a few characters have mythological names, such as Mrs Vasudev, Mrs Nandan, and Mrs Dasrath. One of the mothers-in-law, Mrs Hrimaan (essayed by me) and her daughter-in-law Lavanya play the role of reformers. When the play begins there is chaos, but it ends on an optimistic note that mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law can be the best of friends.”

She adds: “The play is divided into four acts. It is peppered with mock heroic acts. Poile was inspired by Rape of the Lock, Alexander Pope’s mock-heroic narrative poem. The daughters-in-law and the mothers-in-law are in combat, but the main bone of contention is the son of the house, even though they fight over trivial things.”

Sujatha says she was in constant touch with Poile over the course of putting the play together. “She is ahead of her times,” she says.

Sujatha says they had an audition and a cast of 10 were chosen. “It took us four months to put the play together. We had intense rehearsals as comedy is difficult. A little bit of background helped the actors to get into character.”

Devasish says: “The project was initiated by Sujatha. We thought we would read a couple of scripts and we would stage it. We had a reading. And everyone got excited reading the script”

He adds: “It is easy to associate feminism to a play with only women characters. For me however, this is a pseudo way of looking at it. I think it is an interesting play. I really liked the dynamics of the relationship among all the characters.”

Inner Laws will be staged on January 18 at Alliance Francaise. There will be two shows: at 4 pm and 7 pm. Tickets are available at the venue and bookmyshow and are priced at ₹250.

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