Presented by Qabila as part of the Voices from the South showcase online at Edinburgh Fringe, how long is February is “a project in narrative justice delivered via the perfomative” with testimonials based on the real events which happened in Delhi in February 2020.
Written and directed by Nisha Abdulla, this is set in an imagined future and is both harsh and satirical. It does not shy away from the brutality humans can and do influct on each other – nor should it – and yet allows both Hindu and Muslim to have their voice and hope.
Bringing a glimpse into Indian theatrical culture we may not otherwise see, how long is February uses the songs of the Mappila Muslim community to highlight moments of grief while embracing a dark comic tone in some scenes.
The company of performers has an uncanny ability to amuse at one moment and tug at the heartstrings the next. Some aspects of this show made me think of the film The Death of Stalin, which uses satire to draw attention to state brutality.
At just an hour, Abdulla’s show has a lot to cover, including quite a large time period beyond those few days in February. It does this with ease, helped by clear and detailed subtitles.
A subplot involves the arrest of a number of goats – a not uncommon occurrence as animals have been arrested for trespassing and even more oddly, for not wearing a mask in the pandemic.
The shift of perspective and style throughout this film gives it a freshness and cynical approach to political corruption and government-sanctioned violence.
how long is February is part of the showcase of productions from the Pickle Factory Dance Foundation in Kolkata. It is not simply a verbatim play but an inventive look at a difficult time in the history of 21st century India.
You can watch how long is February during the Edinburgh Fringe with tickets here.