The Seussification of Shakespeare

Just for laughs: United we stand. Photo: Karan Ananth   | Photo Credit: KARAN ANANTH

To Seussify or not to Suessify Shakespeare’s works, it seems, did not bother the American playwright Peter Bloedel. He did it anyway, and we must be glad for the outcome. He wrote a most wonderful play The Seussification Of Romeo And Juliet, in which he turns Shakespeare’s tragedy Romeo And Juliet into a comedy, using the famous children’s writer Dr. Seuss’s style of poetry. Judith Roby Bidapa who directed the play and staged it at Alliance Francaise, last week, does a fine job of tweaking the script further.

The audience “took a vacation from common sense” as soon as Kiran Mascerenhas sang, referring to Shakespeare, “your copyright has gone, we own you now”, and delved into the “Seussical whimsy” of the playwright.

You can judge a good play from the way it begins. The opening act by Kiran Mascarenhas, in which she introduces the play, had the audience clapping and cheering. Her lilting voice and self-composed song full of puns and clever rhyme immediately caught the attention of the audience, setting the tone of the play.

Happy ending

The Seussification Of Romeo and Juliet combined musical and physical theatre with generous doses of lyrical poetry. And even though the playwright steers clear of Shakespeare’s famous use of blank verse, it was replete with sophisticated humour, which was not lost on the audience. Credit for this must go to the director and actors, for the comic timing was as prompt as the pick-up of cues.

The director chose to do away with sets completely for the smooth transition from one scene to the next. It was a wise decision as the audience was too engrossed in the play to pay attention to the set and stage design. In fact, the props and unique costumes designed by Vandana Rao, which were a cross between the 16th and 20th centuries, more than made up for the lack of sets.

The interaction between the Capitulates and Monotones — originally Capulets and Montagues — was characterised by some insane moments of hilarity. The story of Romeo and Juliet ended on a happy note, unlike in the original play. The only “tragic” aspects are that Romeo keeps being disappointed in love while clumsy Juliet trips and falls frequently.

Incidentally, the ending was remarkable, but it would be unfair to spoil the fun for you if you ever get the chance to watch the play. It really was the icing on the cake.

The team work among the actors was evident, for all the actors complemented each other, with no one actor dominating. As Judith pointed out, “the performances look easy, but believe me, they weren’t”. Yes, we believe you. Under glaring lights with a packed auditorium watching the play, the actors outdid themselves to produce some fine acting. Noella Ferrao, Chetan Arvind Rao, Aaron Punnen, Dvas Gupta, Lester Dcouto, Nitin Mascreen, Siddhanth Chandrashekhar, Rajeev Kumar, Farid Jalal, Arun Nair, Tanvee Ravi, Tejaswini Gopalaswamy and Padmaja Nagarur — you deserve a “group hug”. But much as I enjoyed the performances and the unique script and plot, the play is not one that stays with you long.

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Printable version | May 6, 2021 12:06:07 AM |

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