Lillete Dubey’s play, Lockdown Liaisons, looks at how the lockdown affected human relationships
Lillete adapts stories from Shobhaa De's novel to stage
During the first lockdown in 2020, novelist Shobhaa De turned to the one thing she knew that would bring her solace — writing. The author churned out 24 short stories, each focussing on human relationships, with the pandemic serving as the backdrop. The stories were compiled under a book titled Lockdown Liaisons. Actor and theatre personality Lillete Dubey, a friend of De’s, now adapts these stories to stage. The play, also titled Lockdown Liaisons, stars Lillete herself, her daughter Ira Dubey and actor Joy Sengupta, and heads to the city next week.
“The topics of lockdown and COVID offer such a wide range of stories. So I had to narrow down what I was interested in. I focussed on how it impacted human beings from different strata of society, and how it affected their personal relationships,” Lillete tells us. Hence, she narrowed it down to five stories from the book, each about people from different parts of India.
All the stories are told through the medium of monologues. “I chose to do a production like this because I wanted to do something very stripped down. I didn’t want to spend a lot on a big production with too many actors because we are in the middle of so much uncertainty. The aim was to keep it bare,” the director tells us, adding, “For me, it had to be do something performance-based with strong actors. It is a contrast to the kind of work I had done earlier. I always like to do something new. In my 35 years or more of theatre, I had never done a monologue-based production. I chose these five stories from the book — two for Joy, two for Ira, and one for myself.”
Each story from the production tells a tale of love and how it is seldom an easy path. Vodka and No Tonic is about a young couple in Delhi. The cracks in their relationship come to the fore as they spend more and more time at home during the lockdown. The second story, Leaving, is about a migrant worker heading back to his village. While he has a family waiting back home, he is also in love with a widowed co-worker and he has to navigate these emotions in the middle of a financial crisis.
A Whiff of Eternity explores a young woman coming to terms with her sexuality. The story is performed by Ira. A Quest Ends is the heartbreaking tale of a couple who are the perfect match for each other, but unfortunately cannot have children. The last piece, performed by Lillete herself is titled Lockdown Funeral. The poignant story is about a woman attending her husband’s funeral. Over the course of the narrative, we find out that her husband had left her for a woman from a different social strata and that she is now trying to come to terms with it. Through crisp storytelling and powerful acting, the play conveys the myriad emotions we felt during the unprecedented times.
Post Bengaluru, the play will head to cities across India and Lillette also plans to take it to Singapore soon.
Rs 750 upwards. March 9, 7 pm. At Chowdiah Memorial Hall, Malleshwaram