“Trial of Mallam Ilya”
Theatre troupe BotTala staged their latest production “Trial of Mallam Ilya” at the Natmandal of Dhaka University on Thursday evening. The play, written by African playwright Mohammad Ben Abdallah, is translated into Bengali by Soumya Sarker, while Mohammad Ali Haider is the director.
The play's central character is Mallam Ilya, the fallen leader of a revolution who is also a narrator. The play sets off on a dark stage where Mallam is taken prisoner by young soldiers following a counter-coup. The soldiers, led by Malwal take Mallam to a secret place where they set up a court and put him on trial. Mallam then starts narrating the story, unfolding the multi-layered storyline.
The play is written in the context of political instability in a post-colonial African country where one coup follows another, symptomatic of a deep socio-political malaise. With its gripping narrative, the play articulates the semiotics of revolution. In a metaphoric sense, the use of masks represents wickedness. The story of coups, conspiracies and political turmoil is subtly presented to the audience. Kudos to the team for the great background score and innovative presentation. However, the light design could have been better on the small stage of Natmandal. Pankaj Majumdar as Mallam and Mizanur Rahman as Chandrapuri excelled in their roles.
The play also features Toufiq Hasan Bhuiyan, Kazi Roksana Ruma, Samina Luthfa, Sheyuti Shahgufta, Imran Khan Munna and Humaira Akhter. The play is the fifth production of BotTala, a troupe that represents the voice of the masses.