24 March 2010

Hamlet, the Clown Prince

Another delayed post on a play that I watched quite some time back ...one which I really enjoyed and I must say has become one of my favorites.

The director, Rajat Kapoor, is one of my favorite actors and I was still in awe from a recent play, The Blue Mug, which I had watched sometime back when I got the email for this one.

The advertisement itself was quite interesting.
"The production is a creation based on William Shakespeare's HAMLET- in English and gibberish. A bunch of clowns are putting up a show of Hamlet- They sometimes misinterpret the text, sometimes find new meanings in it, sometimes try and understand it, very often make a mess of it.
They choose to use some phrases from the play and mix it with gibberish. They even edit the text, throw out some important scenes, and made a mess of the order of things as if the pages got mixed up. But through this all they are simply looking for the essence of Hamlet. And trying to find a context for it in our own times"

I hadn’t read Hamlet, so I was a bit apprehensive that I may lose out on some of the nuances of the play. Luckily one of the girls going with us seemed to know it by heart and gave us a good rundown on the story as we drove to Rangashankara.

At RS, we grabbed some good seats and were pleasantly surprised to find Rajat Kapoor, with an unkempt beard and arty look sitting there in the audience.

A day before I had Googled a bit and found that here again, like in Blue Mug, there was no script but the whole play was created during the rehearsals. This was evident in the 1st scene of the play itself, when we find them making references to Bangalore. I believe when they play was staged in Mumbai and Delhi, they made references to those cities.

The play is about a company of clowns who want to stage a play…i.e a play in a play!!! The clowns are thinking which play to stage and who will play what role when one of clowns reaches late. When he is questioned he makes fun about the distance of the Bangalore airport from the city…on how the taxi kept going and going. Since the airport moved from the city to the outskirts this is a major irritant for frequent travelers, so you could see many people in the audience bursting out into laughter.

The opening scene is all gibberish…how the actor’s mange to talk nonsense in such a consistent way is admirable. How does one learn a line of gibberish! Guess it must be impromptu!!! But that again requires a different level of confidence.

The introduction by the clowns to their play was simple but totally hilarious -"Clown Company presents TRAGEDY!!"

Throughout the play, the clowns in the play acknowledge the audience and converse and joke around with them directly.

It is good slapstick comedy, very witty unlike some comedy shows which think that comedy is all about buffoonery.

One of the actors was amazing. Guess he was not really interested in tragedy, so he breaks into impromptu dancing – Michael Jacksons moon walk which at that time was in everyone’s mind due to his recent death. Or he would suddenly break out into songs from Lion king. He had everyone roaring with laughter.

At one time, he plays Hamlet’s dead father’s ghost. Since he is not allowed to talk, he starts using dumb charades to explain to the clueless Hamlet what he wants him to do to avenge his death!! God! I nearly rolled over from my seat at this scene.

But it was not all comedy. Somewhere between the laughter are poignant scenes. Especially Ophelia’s drowning, which was quite touching.

One has to watch this play to understand how it is possible to make a serious Shakespeear play funny. It makes you laugh so much that you sides hurt and your face muscles get tired!

All in all...a great show. Totally entertaining, not to be missed.

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