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The Father & The Assassin

The Father & The Assassin
17 May 2022
National Theatre
5.0 out of 5.0 stars

The Father & The Assassin is a brand new play by Anupama Chandrasekhar, centered around the man who murdered Mahatma Ghandi.

The entire play is narrated by Nathuram Godse, played by Shubham Saraf, and often directed at the audience. Nathuram lays out his entire life in a defence of his actions later in life, namely the murder of Ghandi. We get to see his childhood and youth, his devoted following of Ghandi in younger years, until disillusion take over and he slowly slips into radicalisation.

Most of all, this play lays out the turmoil and upheaval in the long fight for India’s independence, a topic I honestly knew very little about. It also does a fantastic job of not only showing how radicalisation can happen, but also making the eventual murderer of a national icon a sympathetic figure. A figure which we can understand through how his motives and experiences are laid out to us, through impassioned speeches and desperate defences.

This is not to say that his actions are defensible or even aspirational, I definitely do not agree with that, but the way this play lays out Godse’s slow and creeping radicalisation makes his actions make sense in their setting, in his mind-set, in the situation he found himself in.

It’s not a feel-good play, but nonetheless a very important and deeply touching work that left me reeling for days, re-examining my own opinions on how far we can go to fight for what we believe in, and ultimately wondering how we can stop and prevent the radicalisation of young people today, which seems to be a rising problem around the world. Desperate situations often lead to desperate measures.

I loved seeing this play, as uncomfortable and emotionally shaking as it may be, it was a privilege to witness and take in.

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