O’ Levels Annual Play, The Tooth of Crime, was performed in January 2012 by the JT Illusionists to an audience of approximately 600. The two-day performance was immensely applauded. The play was reworked and directed by Mr. Muhammad Yahya Cheema.
The play’s central idea is doubt, which, undoubtedly, is the evil that eats away at one’s soul, mocks every bit of pride, blurs all rays of hope and destroys all confidence. Doubt is the ultimate defeat; it is the ultimate loss: for no one can defeat you but your own self! At the end of the day, when everything is said and done, you find out that there is no one else around you can put your figure on… you are, and have always been, your very own enemy.
The Tooth of Crime is a play about the cancerous nature of fame, the self-destruct idea of stardom, the pivotal importance of drugs in popular culture and the stylized nature of slang for sub-cultures. It is a play about doubt, about nothingness, about failure. Set in the futuristic ‘Americanized’ wasteland governed by the ‘Keepers’, the play outlines a fierce style-battle between two assassins of ‘The Game’: Hoss and Crow. Whereas Hoss, the top marker, suffers from doubt in his abilities and in the code that he has followed for so long, his opponent, Crow, is the Gypsy, free from all codes and over-confident in his baseless style. As the two assassins come face to face in a grand musical finale, and battle for the psychic ground, for a self, through the stylized slang, the wasteland itself comes to life, rejects the old order and adopts the new one without any real struggle.
The play’s concerns with the class struggle cannot be ignored. Crow is the representative of the ‘new order’, which is stylish but rootless, confident, but without any ‘self’ and impactful but without any substance or grace. Where Hoss represents the older, somewhat tyrannical order, Crow represents the revolution against the system, which might be the right idea but is without any real purpose whatsoever, for after conquering Hoss, Crow becomes Hoss… the tyrant himself. Hoss’s gay interest Beck represents the old order’s relational ties and Beck’s offstage rape represents the cruelty with which the old order has governed so far. There is no feminine presence in my interpretation of the play and it, thence, becomes an order without reproductive capabilities and fades away quickly with Hoss’s theatrical suicide. The real loss, however, is perhaps that the change doesn’t bring about any hope either. Crow becomes as stagnant, as impotent, and as tyrannical as Hoss originally was; and as the curtains close, the satanic laughter that Crow indulges in centre-stage, only enhances the effects of destruction, of nothingness, of the wasteland.