The slightly rehearsed reading of Ajay Krishnan’s The Rascal Quixote was witty and insightful

Ajay Krishnan’s mastery over dialogue and clever and insightful humour are among his fortés as a playwright, with plays, such as Trivial Disasters, a series of comic sketches and Butter and Mashed Banana, a take on freedom of speech, being among his most well-known plays. His latest offering, The Rascal Quixote has been inspired by Miguel de Cervantes’ novel The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha. A lightly-rehearsed reading of the play by Harami Theatre was presented by Toto Funds the Arts in association with Anubhava at The Indian Institute of Human Settlements on June 13.

The one-and-a-half hour reading made for an enjoyable evening. Ajay has tweaked some of the characters and scenes of the novel in his play. What stood out was how well-versed Ajay is with the original text, something to truly marvel at. As the reading progressed, one found many other aspects to be amazed by, from the layered script and smooth flow of the story to the characters and of course, the humour.

In The Rascal Quixote, Cervantes, also a character in the play, writes of a man who immerses himself in the world of books. But he is so influenced by what he reads that he declares himself a knight, Don Quixote. Perceived as insane by society, Don Quixote, with his ever loyal squire, Sancho Panza, travels the countryside on some bizarre adventure, meting out justice, according to his own terms and terrorising people, while also amusing and enlightening them. He speaks often about the lady he loves Dulcinea, who he claims as one of the most beautiful woman in the whole world and expects everyone to agree with him, even though they’ve never seen her. While he creates havoc, two bumbling constables set off on a frustrating search to nab Rascal Quixote.

Ashish Dabreo, Rency Philip, Ashiqa Salvan, Bhavana Rajendran and Arjuna Shankar aka Fizz, enacted the adventures of Don Quixote, while they read from their scripts and experimented with props; in particular a cleaning brush that is often depicted as Sancho Panza’s donkey, Dapple. With Sancho Panza even tickling the “ears” of Dapple while introducing him to a baffled constable.

The play would leave you both laughing out of your seats and make you wonder at what is morally right, true and just in an age, a reflection of our present world, where “madmen become masters and the lines between true and false are damn fat.”