ADVERTISING AT CURTAINUP
Short Term Listings
BOOKS and CDs
LETTERS TO EDITOR
Writing for Us
A CurtainUp London Review
Free Outgoing is set in the traditional town of Chennai in India where a middle-class Tamil widow single-handedly, and apparently successfully, is bringing up her two children. When her fifteen year old daughter Deepa is compromisingly caught with her boyfriend on a mobile phone, the video clip spreads across the country via phones, the internet and television. As Deepa becomes a publicly hated symbol of moral corruption affecting modern-day youth of India, the colossal, irrevocable consequences for an impulsive teenage act become clear.
Set entirely within the family flat, the design by Rosa Maggiora shows a fairly cramped and dingy room, with the shadow of a grill cast cage-like across the walls. While school competition trophies are displayed in one corner, the all-pervasive influence of modern technology (computer, console, television etc) is also obvious, pointing to the tension between education and discipline on the one hand, and technological modernity on the other.
Lolita Chakrabarti plays Malini, the mother frantically trying to save some vestige of her family from the devastation threatening them. Chakrabarti nicely portrays at once Malini's capability in everyday life and her helplessness in this impossibly uncontrollable scenario. Amit Shah plays Sharan, the innocent brother expelled from school for no other reason than sibling association. Played with a lovely teenage awkwardness, gangly limbs and full of personality, Shah gives a very sympathetic portrayal of a boy struggling to be the much-needed head of the family.
Deepa, on the other hand, is a permanently offstage protagonist. Shut in her bedroom for the whole play, this clever conceit means that the audience are never given the opportunity to judge her either way. Also, with thought-provoking contrast, she is hidden away while being "India's most watched teenager".
Anupama Chandrasekhar's naturalistic writing has few flights of metaphor or thematic symbolism but has a strong, gripping plotline which gives overall coherence and momentum to the play. Free Outgoing portrays the fragility of reputation, a wildfire spread of condemnation and the all-too-easy, swift disintegration of a family's wellbeing, education, lives and future. It is a quite distressing viewing experience, showing absolute ruin wrought by single act. However, this play is only upsetting because it is so effective: intense, riveting and harrowing.
Retold by Tina Packer of Shakespeare & Co.
Click image to buy.