Theatre

When Lear clowns around

Vinay Pathak

Vinay Pathak  

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Nothing Like Lear is a contemporary take on father-daughter relationships

Shakespeare is evergreen and there is no disputing that. Yet, there is a need to make Shakespeare our own and have it resonate with younger generations that are far removed from his literature. The dynamics of father-daughter relationships may have altered with years, but the core essentially remains the same. It is this core that the successful play, Nothing Like Lear taps, with Bollywood and stage actor Vinay Pathak holding audience in thrall in this 90-minute solo act.

The play is directed by Pathak’s creative collaborator and buddy, filmmaker, theatre director and actor Rajat Kapoor. The play, which is one of a four-play Shakespeare series that Rajat Kapoor created, reinterpreting the stories with clowns as central characters, revisits Bengaluru this weekend at Ranga Shankara.

“I may have performed it a 100 times, but each time I also feel I’m performing it for the first time,” says Vinay Pathak over telephone from Pune, where he is currently shooting for a film. “The challenge is to keep it fresh and new each time,” says Pathak of the highly interactive play that draws tremendously from the energy and involvement of the audience, and many impromptu revisions, depending on how the audience reacts to him. More a devised theatre performance based on Shakespeare's tragedy King Lear, Nothing Like Lear goes with the flow of thoughts of a depressed clown (an ageing father whose children have left him), with the tragicomic element being the crux. Like the title says, it is nothing really like the original classic.

“While it is King Lear by Shakespeare, written hundreds of years ago, it is my responsibility to bring it to an audience today, and keep it entertaining for them, by not just being comic, but with my interpretation of the text. The audience needs to connect with me and that’s the challenge.”

At its heart, the story remains that of the love between the father and a daughter and their falling out, and is therefore very relevant, says Pathak. “To take it a step further we have brought our own selves as fathers into the play – Rajat and me are both fathers of girls – and the play has our personal investment in it as fathers. That is why the connect of the play has been larger and stronger,” he avers. “It is the interpretation of the father-daughter relationship in our context, here in India.”

The most touching of experiences, says Pathak, is when after a performance, many a daughter has come up to him and said ‘I will now go and call my father immediately and speak with him, which I haven’t done in a while…” The excitement and challenge of repeatedly playing this role and holding centrestage for 90 minutes consistently, is that each time he has to perform it with the same gusto, says Pathak.

Apart from Mumbai, Pathak says, Bengaluru is his favourite theatre city. “Every time we are here, without fail, we meet umpteen new and young audiences – whether they are college goers or from the IT sector. For many, this is the first theatre experience. At the same time, there is the evolved audience who know their theatre and are appreciative of such plays.”

Nothing Like Lear, produced by The Company Theatre and Cinematograph Production will be staged in Ranga Shankara on March 15 (7.30 pm), and March 16 and 17 (3.30 pm and 7.30 pm). Tickets on www.bookmyshow.com and at the venue on the days of the show

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Printable version | Jan 28, 2020 12:26:34 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/theatre/when-lear-clowns-around/article26521048.ece

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