Intelligently mocking Shakespeare's Hamlet

Intelligently mocking Shakespeare's Hamlet

It is rare when the Delhi audience sits through a two-hour non-stop theatre performance – especially when the play is not new and certainly not when one of Bard’s greatest tragedies has been turned into a comedy!

It was striking to see a captivated audience sitting throughout the play, Hamlet - The Clown Prince directed by Rajat Kapoor, which has been inspired by the Tragedy of Hamlet!

Staged recently at Kamani Auditorium, the celeb factor in the cast was one reason that made it a houseful but the brilliant portrayals by these actors ensured that each remained glued to their seats, till the end. Those who even wanted to leave were stopped from doing so by actors who improvised on the spot and engaged in impromptu dialogue with the audience members on different occasions.

For those who are not too fond of Shakespearean tragedies, they enjoyed the dig at Hamlet by six clowns who acted nonsensically but only to present the play’s dark philosophy. With a serious monologue the spotlight on Soso (Atul Kumar who plays Hamlet later) starts and suggests that there is more in store than just buffoonery!From the casting to the staging, the whole act is a play within a play but with a comic twist! This is evident right in the beginning, when one of the clowns says that Hamlet is boring because everybody dies in the end.

The rest of the story follows in the same spirit, where Atul puts up a brilliant show even with his face masked as a clown. He is ably supported by Fifi (Kalki Koechlin who plays Ophelia) and Nemo (Namit Das who plays Polonius). In their gibberish interspersed with English the three keep the narrative going through its highs and lows. At times they also include adult comedy.

Just when the audience feels the need to yawn, Buzo (Puja Sarup who plays Gertrude, the Queen) breaks into a witch-like laughter or Fido (Neil Bhoopalam who plays Claudius) enacts a spirited dance even when playing  a ghost!

This tale had everything – from the perennially unresolved question of 'To be or not to be' to the depiction of theme of 'revenge', but told through a narrative that is not-so-simple. Yet, it is brought to life by Asmit Pathare’s lights which are mesmerising during the soliloquies of Hamlet and Ophelia and later in the climax.