The Shakespeare Theatre Festival 2016
Three days of fun, frolic and farce twisted with a Shakespearean cadence. Words written hundreds of years ago echoed by the silhouettes of some of India’s best theatre artists. And for that moment, almost encompassed in character and setting, they delivered to us the very best of William Shakespeare. Vinay Pathak and his posse of Kalki Koechlin, Cyrus Sahukar, Ranvir Shorey and Neil Bhoopalam under the direction of the ever-so-modest Rajat Kapoor were back in Bangalore for their own renditions of Shakespeare’s greatest plays on the 1st, 2nd and 3rd of July.
A modern re-creation of Macbeth (What Is Done Is Done), As You Like It (I Don’t Like It, As You Like It) , Hamlet (The Clown Prince) and King Lear (Nothing Like Lear) took centrestage at the Chowdiah Memorial Hall, and might I say it was quite the histrionic encounter. From ‘All the world’s a stage…’ to ‘Something wicked this way comes…’ the audience got much more than they hoped for. A meld of comedy and drama swooning over the stories of Shakespeare in a caustic affair of characters.
Granted that the plays lost something after they had been twisted around to find comic appeal, the artists provided tidbits of archaic Shakespearean language and melodrama that some of these plays originally had. King Lear broke into his innuendos of madness in between, Hamlet with his questions of being, all of it came together quite well from a slapstick entertainment perspective to say the least.
A still from Hamlet-The Clown Prince
The artists gave quite a realistic portrayal of the characters, they weren’t blown out of proportion in an attempt to modernize the scene. The edited stories and scripts were a tad over-simplified, but perhaps that played in favour of the audience making the play easy to understand and follow. Melodious harmonies played in the background added to the emotion in the scenes and complemented what the characters were iterating. I must commend Vinay Pathak who was part of all the plays, his unique expressions were enough to get the crowd laughing.
Look at those expressions!
It was endearing to see how smooth the transformation of the Shakespearean play into a modern day story became and I must say Rajat Kapoor did a magnificent job with that. This shows how well Rajat Kapoor knows his audience and what things they can or cannot relate to, he was even there to greet them at the front of the theatre!
The man behind the scenes.
I was only able to see Nothing Like Lear (King Lear), and the spotlight was all on Vinay Pathak who had a rather authentic Italian accent through the whole play. I had always seen Vinay Pathak playing an Indian character, this change in role to a Shakespearean madman was all the more welcome.
If you’re a literature enthusiast, this may not have been for you; there was even some gibberish in the play, literally. But if you were looking to have some fun and getting a taste of Shakespeare, then this was something special you missed out on! They will be back next year, as Rajat Kapoor said in his closing words.