Last week, the world premier of Eve Ensler’s second play, I am an Emotional Creature took place at the Tata Theatre at NCPA, in Mumbai. When I first heard that Ensler’s play was going to premier in Mumbai, I couldn’t understand the logic. Yes, Vagina Monologues is so popular in India it’s going to be translated into at least two regional languages, but Mumbai is hardly the literary capital of the continent, and a play on women’s struggles would have made a better statement in other South Asian hot spots like Pakistan or Bangladesh. But, as Ensler vaguely pointed out, “India is the vagina of Asia”. Plus sponsorship deals are more lucrative, the acoustics aren’t bad, and the Mumbai theatre community and its audience would never even consider blaspheming an international playwright like Ensler.
Or maybe they would. The play was terrible. Vagina Monologues was over-the-top but it was funny—and poignant. I am an Emotional Creature was like a bad high-school production. It was a throwback to the braless 70s, when women screamed, shouted, and hated men. Maybe it was the production, maybe it was the writing, I’m not entirely sure why or when I, and several other people by the look of it, began to lose interest. The stories were thought-provoking, they told of female infanticide, of sexual slavery, of the pain of trying to fit in, but at some point Ensler or maybe the director Kaizaad Kotwal went Bollywood, all camp and high-strung. This play was a woman in the midst of a terrible episode of PMS. It was funny in parts, especially the epilogue, which was read out by the wonderfully understated Lovleen Tandon. But it wasn’t easy sticking around till then.