Burn Out – An extraordinary tour de force of everywoman’s indomitable spirit

Burn Out, an Assamese play and a META 2023 TOP 10 finalist, is a one-woman show. The director, Barnali Medhi, is also the lead actor, chief protagonist, narrator, director, and the connector of the fine lines between text and subtext.

Based on Dr Bhabendra Nath Saikia's famous Assamese novel Antarip, Burn Out is one woman’s tour de force and her struggle against the eternal cycle of betrayal, loss and violation. It is also a gritty tell-all of her coming into her own, a monologue of a series of events which, even though familiar in its almost mundane embodiment of marital exploitation and disloyalty, is still shocking, sordid and extraordinary.

Menoka, the first wife of Mohikanto, a post-war feudal lord and rice-mill owner replete with the characteristic arrogance of typical corrosive male power, is the only actor in this experimental play. Menoka tells her story of grief, betrayal, humiliation and finally revenge, to the audience while caressing hay figures in a stark and dimly-lit set. The figures she fiddles with as she talks are perhaps symbolic of the many actors of her own life’s drama.

Menoka’s story is everywoman’s journey – navigating the insidious and toxic patriarchy that unfortunately rules societies even today, where a man’s adultery and marital negligence, are rarely censured. In Burn Out, Menoka is both the archetypical betrayed wife and the atypical modern woman who exercises agency. She is at once pitiful, tragic, dramatic but dignified, independent and poised. In her contradictions, lies her humaneness, which has been portrayed with superb precision by Barnali.

Don’t miss this play and many others at the 18th Mahindra Excellence in Theatre Awards (META) and Festival to be held between 23rd – 28th March at Kamani auditorium and Shri Ram Centre, New Delhi, culminating in a grand Red Carpet Awards Night on March 29th, 2023. Tickets for the plays are available. Book now on* https://in.bookmyshow.com/plays/mahindra-excellence-in-theatre-awards-and-festival/ET00354084

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