No Punjabi, only Shakespeare

LINGUISTICALLY inCORRECT: Romeo and Juliet was staged as part of Punjabi Theatre Festival

Language has no barriers, its true. But it is not often that one gets to see Shakespeare’s classic Romeo and Juliet adapted by a Bengali director for a Punjabi Theatre Festival!

With a free entry, the auditorium of Shri Ram Centre for Art and Culture was jam-packed with crowds that turned up to watch the Punjabi adaptation of the English play but the director Partho Bandhopadhyaya instead gave them a surprise by
narrating the story sans dialogue.

Dressed in very English attire, the characters made their entry and exits on stage looking as lost as the audience. The entry of Juliet in a hanging basket did arouse interest but it soon died out due to the inability of the actors to express themselves properly - which is of utmost importance in the absence of dialogues.

The background score changed from an English tune to the notes of flute
during serious scenes but the overacting of the supporting cast remained unchanged. With girls more interested in adjusting their hair locks and boys lacking command over body language, they marred the efforts that the director had tried to introduce through interestingly choreographed scenes.

One impressive moment is when Romeo is carried by a circular group of masked actors on their shoulder, as he tries to reach for the poison carried by the Joker. Another is the dragging of the casket with Juliet's dead body across the stage.
Romeo is still believable but one wishes Juliet could have portrayed her part with equal ease. Their characterisation is also in English sensibility and their act of dying and re-dying is repeated in the exact manner as the original script, leaving the audience to wonder where exactly did the Punjabi element fit into the whole story?

The themes of love, fate and chance could have been exploited a bit more to
present a substantial piece but sadly, this performance remained peripheral throughout!  
The hopes are now hinging on Kewal Dhaliwal's adaptation of King Lear which will be staged as past of the Punjabi Theatre Festival today.

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