The title of Kamala Das's poem "The Old Playhouse" is explained in the third stanza, where the speaker describes her mind as an old playhouse "with all its lights put out." The poem describes married life and sex in particular in terms that are sometimes frightening, sometimes boring, and always physically disgusting. The speaker addresses her husband, telling him how he has disappointed her and warped her experience of sex. Her lust, she tells him, is not only dead but "embalmed ... with your bitter-sweet juices." She has lost her will and her reason in the bitterness of her experience.
The title focuses the reader's attention on the image of the old playhouse, which might otherwise appear to be incidental. A playhouse is a place full of light, laughter, emotion, and creativity. The speaker is saying that she once had all these attributes and felt fully alive. Now, all the lights have gone out and the playhouse stands sad and derelict, a mere shadow of what it once was. It is a biting comment on the husband's insensitivity and his "monstrous ego" that he has not noticed such a drastic change in his wife. The fact that she has to point out how different she is (even if she is only talking to herself, thinking what she would like to say to him) shows his lack of interest in her as a personality.