Monday, August 10, 2009

Hamlet - The Clown Prince

“And Sunshine Follows The Rain”, “Love Letters”, “The Odd Couple”, “Always Look At The Bright Side Of Life”, “Flowers” “Doubles, Triples And Quadruples”, “Blackbird”, “Sonata” and many more…Three years, all those plays and not one Shakespearean classic in the list…wouldn’t you say it is a pity?

Rangashankara’s schedule for August remedied exactly this malady by bringing Rajat Kapur’s “Hamlet – The Clown Prince” to town. It would have been sacrilege to let it pass by.

I associate the name Rajat Kapur with substance when it comes to performance. To add to it, his play “The Blue Mug” was sold out at least four days before the shows began. Given both the facts together, it was safe to say that deciding to watch Hamlet was not entirely a gamble. It is another story altogether that Rajat Kapur was not even in Hamlet; he was only the Director. Nevertheless, my expectations from the play were on the higher side.

Top that with the fact that I hadn’t even read Hamlet. That made me quite anxious about how I would receive the play, whether I would associate with it, understand it…would it ruin my first brush with a Shakespearean masterpiece? It helped that my company for the play had Hamlet by heart almost and we had nice discussions about it in the run-up week; so I had a fair bit of background. That wasn’t enough to quell the apprehensions though. So I entered Rangashankara with equal amounts of eagerness and doubt…

And came out Awed. Exhilarated. Entertained. Pleasantly Surprised. And all the adjectives I can’t think of to describe this theatrical masterpiece. I was so dazed after stepping out of the auditorium! I couldn’t get over how good the play really was for almost the whole weekend…I am still thrilled about it actually.

The play was presented by a company of Clowns. And they gave a succinct introduction to this fact through the statement “Clown Company presents…….TRAGEDY!!”, inviting enough laughter for the irony. It is the clown’s adaptation of Hamlet and they add their own interpretation to it and present their perspective. It is to be noted that they do not meddle with the script and plot of the play itself. The opening scene is all gibberish and closes quite dramatically before the audience is led into the play.

The clowns endear themselves to the audience by making local references and talking to some of the audience members before getting into the next scene where the audience is invisible to them. The play is a complete roller coaster from the start to the end and the audience is taken through emotions high and low so fast that it can be slightly taxing, the only relief being the uproarious laughter that the play constantly draws. Sandwiched between the laughter are poignant scenes like the one where Ophelia drowns (my favourite for the effect it had on me and for Ophelia’s heart-rending performance as she walks into the river).

I could truly go on and on about this play because it was such a complete delight that it left me giddy and glad that we decided to watch it. But I will leave it at saying that this is one play you do not want to miss the next time it is playing in your town. It is a sample of theatrical excellence and entertaining to the core. I don’t remember the last time a play or a movie made me laugh so hard that it hurt in the sides…and we are talking about Hamlet for God’s sake!! Simply marvellous…

And if I was already ecstatic as I stepped out of Rangashankara, the feeling was only heightened by the conversation that followed…anatomy of the character of Hamlet (I just loved the interpretation that Hamlet could very well have been Libran the way he could never decide on something and act…very amusing yet perceptive)…a direct imprint of the analogy on our lives where we spend too much time thinking and never get around to doing what we really want to do…and then a whole lot of talk about life in general…the evening just could not have been better…

With such a splendid and symbolic start to the weekend (I attended a theatre workshop where we recited Hamlet on the second day :-) …more on that later), it is not surprising that the whole weekend was one thrill mounting upon another and culminated in another long and lovely conversation…if there is anything called as ‘life’s big mercies’, this is it.

2 Thinkers Pondered:

KCL said...

It sure is wonderful to learn about a first time experience of Hamlet striking one hard. Ophelia's drowning catching your attention is an interesting aspect. Since this was off the normal, tell me about Polonius, was he the master of the fools?

Anupama said...


No I didn't see Polonius as the master of fools...everyone was made to look foolish at one point in time or another so that interpretation is hard to draw...and would love to discuss why Ophelia's drowning catching my attention is interesting...thanks for the comment :)