Schema Reviews the Black Comedy of Mrs. Singh & Me

Posted by Asha Kaur & filed under Life.

SOURCE: South Asian Arts Centre

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At first glance, Mrs. Singh & Me seemed like a lighthearted comedy void of controversy. Leaving the theatre though, I appreciated its label as a black comedy.

The lovesick protagonist, driven to extreme measures, kidnaps the mother of his once-lover as a last ditch effort to win her back. Writer Munish Sharma masterfully grapples with universally relevant themes of romance, family obligation and traditional values while maintaining an amusing and engaging dialogue between Raj and Mrs. Singh. As the conversation matures in the play, Mrs. Singh & Me undertakes messy subject matter with clarity and wit.

Despite the amusing tone and witty dialogue, I was deeply ill at ease.

In the middle of the minimalistic set, Mrs. Singh sat bound and gagged. The tension of the uncomfortable power dynamic permeated throughout the play. The image of a helpless woman held against her will because a man felt entitled to do so was only stressed with the intentional simplicity of the setup stage.

Dark comedy is meant to use morbid humour to confront taboo subjects. Mrs. Singh and Me not only grapples with the complexities of generational difference in South Asian culture, but also with the stereotypes and violence that plague the Indian community.

Domestic violence is a sensitive topic in the South Asian community. In a culture where saving face is all-important, the symbolism of Mrs. Singh’s bound body was meant to provoke discomfort.

Mrs. Singh and Me’s dark allusions to the misogynistic violence afflicting Indian culture is absolutely commendable. It subtly pries at a complicated network of tradition while still maintaining entertainment and reliability for the general audience.

The resilience of Mrs. Singh was highlighted as she dealt with being kept captive. Instead of showing fear, she bravely fought back and boldly questioned Raj whether he was going to rape her. The symbol of her physical oppression exemplifies the cultural issues that disproportionately affect Indian women.

The strength of Mrs. Singh in addition to the docile and sensitive nature of Raj provided an interesting context to the discussed themes of assimilation, loss of identity, cultural obligation and romance. Additionally, the sharp humour between the protagonists eased the tension of their bodily unbalance.

The writing of the play allowed the audience an empathetic view of both characters and the basis of their identity. Mrs. Singh is a representation of resilience, as a well-rounded, logical, opposition to the idealistic perspective of Raj. Meanwhile, Raj represented the face of a changing community veering away from the collectivist mindset of the Indian community.

The performance was a mirror of sorts, shining back a vivid reflection of the Indian community to the audience. With its open-ended conclusion, Mrs. Singh and Me opened dialogue for the South Asian community to reflect inwardly on itself. Despite this intelligent subtext, it was still quick-witted and comedic.

As one of this year’s pick of the Fringe, it’s an entertaining must-see. Mrs. Singh and Me is currently playing  at the Newton Cultural Centre with performances at the following times:

Friday, October 2 at 7pm and at 9pm
Saturday, October 3 at 7pm and at 9pm
Sunday, October 4 at 6pm

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