Thursday, March 10, 2011

Anmol Sagar

Hamlet: The clown prince

I recently went to see Rajat Kapoor’s ‘Hamlet: The clown prince’ at Prithvi. The play, (in gibberish and English as the advet said) was supposedly hilarious. I went in wondering how one could possibly make whiny and serious Hamlet funny….And I came out holding my sides, for they ached from all the laughing I did for 2 hours straight!!

The play has a company of clowns presenting their version of Hamlet along with multiple doses of digressions to share their own lives and personalities. Clowns being clowns, the play is not only funny, it’s filled with contemporary influences which manage to present the classical tragedy with a modern feel.

I was a little stunned when it started…. a clown opened it with something that sounded like a frantic mix of French, English, Chinese and some alien language all at the same time! That’s Gibberish for the untrained and it does take some getting used to. I wasn’t too sure whether the gibberish was really a needed ingredient (others with me felt it added a comical hue), but I thought the play would have been as funny even in just plain English.

 The play was uproariously funny to say the least… the multiple digressions by the clowns where they would totally forget that they are enacting Hamlet were entertaining and the involvement of the audience members into their dialogues was ingenious and extraordinary. The actors were really good… it would take a lot to deliver a flawless 2 hour play. A special mention for the lead actor who played the clowning and the serious parts with great aplomb (His heartfelt speech on the death of Ophelia had me almost in tears!) I personally really liked the clown who played Claudius… he was brilliant in his portrayal of the airheaded disconnected clown and a devious step father to Hamlet at the same time. His impromptu dancing and breaking into songs from Lion king really had me holding my sides. At one time, he also played Hamlet’s dead father’s ghost (who by the way is not allowed to talk… being a ghost and all) where he was trying to, through dumb sharads, explain to the clueless Hamlet what he wants him to do to avenge his death!!

It is a challenge for anyone to present Hamlet in it’s entirely in 2 hours and this play did cut around some of the interlacing stories, but that did not make the story less complete in any way. The play ignored the whole Prince Fortinbras angle as also the betrayal of Rosencratz and Guildenstern… but it added a lot more through the stories of the clowns and their relationships with each other. 

All in all, I was amazed at the creativity and the skill of the cast and the crew of the play and felt that the standing ovation they got at the end was really too little an appreciation!  Hats off to the team and to Rajat Kapoor (who by the way was there at the venue sporting an arty look with a long unruly beard) for a great show!

Anmol Sagar

1 comment:

  1. I too was perplexed with the gibberish..Even commented on the same to Rajat after the show - but he said it was just 'English' =).

    It is very funny once you settle down into it. I liked the modern touch - many witty lines that could be related to present day!

    Good Job!