Life in a war-ridden country is unimaginable. While the soldiers continue their tasks, there are a lot of innocents whose lives are destroyed and yet they survive. Heather Raffo wrote a play detailing the plight and stories of nine women who suffered during the Iraqi wars. These women have nothing in common except their unbreakable connection to one country which was in turmoil. 9 Parts of Desire has received critical acclaim and has been performed Off-Broadway for over a decade now. The Indian version has been directed by Lillete Dubey and performed by Ira Dubey.
As you enter G5A's black box, you are immediately transported in the middle of the war zone in Iraq. The play starts with Mulaya, who is at a funeral. You are immediately transported into the living room of Layal, who passionately talks about her obsession with painting nudes. She talks about how she sees every female body as hers and how she depicts it on paper. She doesn't want to leave Iraq. She is working in a good position there and she would not want to leave her freedom. Very soon, you are introduced to Amal, who talks about her journeys after she left Iraq only to come back there again. You then meet an exiled communist who, while nursing her glass of scotch, talks about how the American invasion was actually better than Saddam's rule. You also see a nine-year-old living in Iraq listening to 'Nsync but she is not allowed to leave her house. Umm Ghada (Ghada's mother) talks about an "accidental" bombing on their shelter which killed everyone there.
You see nine women on stage, each with a different experience when it came to dealing with the war but each depicting their resilience as they adapted to the situation and survived. There are no words to express the beauty of Ira Dubey's skills as she transformed from one character to another. She did not change her dressing much but she changed her voice modulation and body language with each person. She also adopted various accents to denote people from different cultures. This piece is not only a very difficult thing to perform but it is also a difficult one to sit through; especially if you get squeamish. No details are spared and the performance is meant to move you.
Lillete Dubey has done a fine job of directing such a complicated piece with just one actor but it is Ira Dubey's performance which makes you laugh and cry with these Iraqi women. The fact that all these women are real will only make the piece more real.