The Pregnant King: This play is here to jolt us into questioning gender roles at every level

For a generation unable to decide whether or not to support LGBTQ rights, this play might just show us our way out of the dilemma.

Theatre has been an expression of life itself, and more often than not an instrument of change. Actors emote their characters on stage and push us to think about the issues raised. It is exactly this note on which Theatreworms’ latest production based on Devdutt Pattnaik’s ‘The Pregnant King’ is expected to be.

The Pregnant King is an interpretation of a lesser known tale in the Mahabharata, that of the king Yuvanashva. The childless king yearns for a child and chances upon a sage who hands him a ‘magic potion’ to help one of his wives conceive. The twist in the tale occurs when the king ends up drinking this potion himself and as expected it works. This sudden twist in the story throws audiences off balance, because while society takes quite well to a queen’s pregnancy how does it react to a king’s?

It is from this point on that the book and the play start questioning gender roles at a very basic level. The king has dialogues wherein he questions that is he now the mother or the father? A very pertinent question indeed. If a king conceives, he is the mother but the man in the equation is always the father. This unconventional take on gender equations and roles is what pulled director Kaushik Bose to the book.

Bose says that ‘The Pregnant King’ is not a modern interpretation but in fact a period play. It is a reflection on how both men and women behaved in the period and since in that respect things in our society have barely moved, its very much a reflection of the present scenario.

The play also brings into scene the whole issue of ownership of the child and the fact that societal norms demand the child takes up the father’s surname. But now that we do not know who is the father and who is the mother, whose surname does the child even take up? The Pregnant King throws the audience several such googlies and leaves us on our own to figure the answers out.

Kaushik Bose says he is banking on the Theatreworms’ penchant for original stories, which he considers to be their USP, to make this production a success. He further says that though this story has been around for a while now, it did not attract anyone from the Delhi theatre scene.

The play named Flesh, directed by Kaushik Bose, stages on 14 January at LTG Auditorium, Copernicus Marg and we suggest you be their audience.