(A Quarterly International Peer-reviewed Refereed e-Journal
Devoted to English Language and Literature)
R. P. Singh. The Flea Market and Other Plays. New Delhi: Authorspress, 2014. Pp.71. Rs. 195/- (Paperback). ISBN: 978-81-7273-687-3.
Reviewed by Sudhir K Arora
R. P. Singh’s The Flea Market and Other Plays is a collection of three plays, namely, ‘The Flea Market’, ‘The Expired’ and ‘A Scientist E’ which offer “no question—just realization.” The short plays are the plays of ideas, which remind the reader Shavian flavour, reveal the enticing tactics, and display the politics of ideology, discourse and passions.
‘The Flea Market’ is a market where Corsea attracts Asian Ketan who considers her “drowned in wine” and “an imperfect match of reason and emotion.” The game keeper tempts him to gamble with such alluring words “chance makes success: success makes a man.” Asian Ketan feels tempted and finally left with no penny in his pocket. Corsea who is actually a cultural anthropologist and novelist takes him with her. She does not like men and considers them “rascal” all “with lecherous knees” but she likes humanity. She is a lesbian and likes her partner Elise. For her all men are “flirting beasts” who “see the hole within, the same perennial gaze.” Asian Ketan begins to show his interest in her and while lying on the bed, he thinks of her and her loneliness. Somewhere he has a desire to feel her as she becomes a subject of experiment as well as the best object, “the best ever touched.” She also shares her views with Ketan and asks him that “a man will never understand the plight of a torn-out woman.” Freud did not do justice with women and gave the concept of ‘penis envy.’ Ketan finds her a lady who is living in ideology, which certainly “mars the emotions” and “molests the passion, the zest for beauty.” He asks her to leave the confused path of theories because neither a theorist nor a philosopher can bring humanity to the right path. Women and men cannot be viewed separately. She feels torn in between ideology and emotions. Ketan promises her to support for a better tomorrow in the world where there will be humanism and the Universal Human Rights. Hatred turns into love and love into understanding between Asian and Corsea when all the theories and ideologies are thrown into the dustbin in the end.
‘The Expired’ peeps into the lives of the expired love birds—Hastings and Alice who became the victim of Justin’s conspiracy. In their case, desire becomes “an unfulfilled lot.” They appear from the grave and begin to relive past with hope in their eyes. While sitting on the platform of the grave they reflect over “the cruelty of the fierce nature.” Alice assures him that she belongs to him and then Hastings recalls Hyde Park London and the memories associated with it. Hastings recites Andrew Marvel’s ‘To His Coy Mistress’ which, for Alice, is “the mantra of life.” Lovers may be expired but their love never expires.
‘A Scientist E’ traces out the lives of Ismail, A scientist E and Darshan Singh who suffer much due to wine, which drinks their career. They meet by chance and become friends by choice finally leading to the victory of reason over emotion. A woman makes the scientist intoxicated and gets his research published in her name and thus spoils his career. The same is with the Professor Darshan Singh who suffers much due to wine which makes his wit out and snatches his career. Both of them take a hold of the drunkard and move on the right path.
The reader enjoys the musical words, reads the Indian words, and feels Shavian echoes in lines like “I have faith in you...Why we all support each other, let’s make the world a place to live in. For a better tomorrow, where humanism prevails.”
R. P. Singh has demonstrated his skill as a playwright in the use of intellectually convincing characters, striking short sentences, and simple but forceful choice of words. He has woven the threads of the East and the West into a smooth fabric which makes the reader think of its quality of ideas, which are replete with the cocktail of wine, woman and wealth that somewhere prepare the base of The Flea Market and Other Plays.
Dr Sudhir K. Arora (b.1968) teaches English at Maharaja Harishchandra P. G. College, Moradabad affiliated to M. J. P. Rohilkhand University, Bareilly. He has several significant publications to his credit including Aravind Adiga’s The White Tiger: A Freakish Booker and Cultural and Philosophical Reflections in Indian Poetry in English in Five Volumes. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.