An excellent play by Nautanki Theatre

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Neel Bannerjee as Eliott confused about his identity as a female trapped in a male body  

By Neena Badhwar

Nautanki Theatre’s presentation ”˜Last Dance at Dum Dum’ is a delightful play based on Anglo-Indians living in Calcutta ”“ the last vestiges of the Raj the Britishers have left behind. It is a serious yet a comedy with a bunch of eccentrics living in their past as they carry forth their fears and insecurities to the present. They neither belong to the British roots nor they identify with the Indians who have become quite daring thus making them insecure and doubtful as their lives shrink under the post-colonial India of the 1980s.

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Actors Anne Geenen, Suparna Bobby Mallick, Neel Bannerjee, Marty O’Neill, Penny Day, Dixit Thakkar and Penny Day bring out their best in this Ayub Khan-din’s play with some quite apt and witty dialogues.



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“Missy called me a monkey’ says Neel to the lady who runs the place reminding one about the Adam Goodes episode or the cricketer Harbhajan Singh and Andrew Symmonds episode and the racist attitude that erupts every now and then here.

The dialogue where that now ”˜Australia is flooded with migrants and we hear that a church has been turned into a temple’ and another dialogue with Dixit Thakkar playing the role of a Hindu fundamentalist brandishing his right to India and his high caste are quite contemporary and show what is happening here and in India of the present times.    The old lady is pretty downright honest and speaks her mind no matter what. As she gathers attention her flare ups really bring forth outbursts in her role as Muriel Marsh. Played by Anne Geenen she is just brilliant. While Bobby Mullick in her role as Violet is spot on as she hangs on to things British. Neel as Elliot is confused and brings in some light entertainment and some funny moments when he sings and dances ”˜Diamonds are a girls’ best friend’.

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”˜Last Dance at Dum Dum’ is a great comedy which brings serious issues relating to insecurities around identity, acceptance, religious fundamentalism, personal safety and freedom that dog today’s world.  It is an excellent cross-cultural play that says a lot about what’s on everyone’s mind these days.

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