BHUBANESWAR: It is not often that one comes across mono-act plays. For simple reason that it calls upon rare genius of theatrical skills that can keep the audience glued to the seat. And ‘Nothing Like Lear’ was one of those rare breeds of mono-act.
Directed by Bollywood actor Rajat Kapoor, the play was ‘nothing like’ William Shakespeare’s famed tragedy King Lear. But, at some levels, the playwright introduced the audience to the Shakespearean style of exploring human nature-in-depth and multi-dimensional. Like Shakespearean protagonist, his character was fictional yet contemporary and relatable to its deepest core.
The mono-act, presented by Bollywood actor Vinay Pathak, made the audience laugh, cry, scared and contemplate in 40 minutes. Unlike a dull monologue, the act was immensely engaging as Vinay, presented as an old clown, kept interacting with the audience to bring in some comic relief at frequent intervals. Be it through puns or innuendos, Vinay made the audience split into laughter. Interestingly, small fragments of his dialogues resembled impromptus, tailor-made for the audience in Bhubaneswar. For instance, when the clown asks the audience to guess his reason of depression, he refers to the abrogation of Article 370.
Replete with hilarious one-liners, Vinay’s dialogues were laced with sarcasm at times. And, much of the sarcasm was on contemporary lifestyles, changing relationships and human nature. Among its several takeaways, the dialogues were striking--justifying a Shakesperean adaptation. Some of the unforgettable ones were: politicians fool people, lawyers confuse and businessmen cheat; I am a fool, therefore I love; and don’t grow old before you get wise.
Unlike Shakespeare’s play, the act was based on the life of an old and depressed clown. It took the audience through various episodes in the clown’s life to explore human nature, vices, desires, love and sorrow. It presented a contemporised version of the complexities in relationships between aging parents and their children, settled abroad or in distant cities for work.
Vinay’s character was not heroic. Triggered by circumstances, it also presented a grotesque side when the clown stabbed the eyes of his step-brother for not having ‘dreamt for 20 years’ and being ridiculed as an ‘illegitimate’ son. At this point, Vinay’s depiction of the scene--packed with Shakesperean monologues--was tremendous. When Vinay delivered another Shakespearean monologue while cursing his daughter for leaving him dejected, the audience could feel goosebumps.
As the curtain came down, the audience gave a standing ovation to both Vinay and Rajat.The play was staged at Rabindra Mandap on Friday as part of The Zain Foundation’s annual fundraiser event.