Review: “Nirbhaya” – Stay Silent No More

This was a review written and posted on my old blog in July 2014 but I am reposting it here now.

Warning: This post will review the play “Nirbhaya” which deals with the issues of sexual violence and domestic/child abuse.)

After hearing a lot of praise for it, I went to go see the play “Nirbhaya” (“Fearless”) in the Pavilion Theatre in Dublin and after coming out of the theatre, feeling numb, I knew that this was a performance I would never forget and one that warranted its own review.

Though the play is Indian and was sparked by the notorious gang rape in Delhi, India in 2012, it is a bursting flame that tackles the universal issues of sexual violence, domestic and child abuse and furiously calls for change; forcing the audience to re-examine their attitudes and apathy, encouraging them to stay silent no more. The play features a cast of brave performers who choose to share their own personal experiences with the audience while re-telling the tragic story that shook India and the world at large. The audience sees real people, from different walks of life, with different personalities and experiences, coming together to reflect on the devastating nature of sexual violence, abuse, and the overwhelming silence that usually surrounds these issues, while constructing and executing a very powerful, influential and moving piece of contemporary theatre.

Stripped back, free from the filter of society-induced shame, the play was very raw, charged with real emotion and pain. Being able to understand both languages that were spoken in the play, it added another layer to my experience and I felt even more connected to the performances. The dialogue before translation felt even more unfiltered and pure. The individual performances were strong and hard-hitting. The performers courageously threw back the curtains of silence and gave voice to their own stories. The re-utterance of “I am here” was particularly touching as the audience saw the performers reminding them that they have survived and chosen to speak out, hoping to encourage serious change by inspiring people to break free from the barriers of silence and speak up about abuse and sexual violence. It was a refusal to once again be buried with silenced words and fall into the habit of victim-blaming and victim-shaming as the play addressed the ways in which people can react to stories of sexual violence and abuse and how they add another layer to the trauma and devastation.

It was a difficult theatrical performance to watch and I found myself peeking through my hands at various moments and I can honestly say that I couldn’t restrain my tears when they came. It is not a play that soothes and distances but one that grabs you and forces you to reflect on the subtle actions and hidden words which aid the continuation of sexual violence, domestic and child abuse around the world. “Nirbhaya” is a play that reaches to your very core and stamps itself there – it is tragic, heartbreaking, maddening, thought-provoking and very real and I would encourage everyone to go see it. “Nirbhaya” is a theatrical performance that deserves to be shared and spread and not one that I am likely to forget.

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