Recently, I was invited to the Theater Festival organized by Centre Stage Creation, and I managed to catch some of the plays. Centre Stage Creation’s objective is to organize and promote a variety of high quality cultural programs in Kolkata, Spanning various fields such as theatre, music, rhetoric, art, literature, etc. The first event held by Centre Stage Creations was, “Nothing Like Lear” a play directed by Rajat Kapoor with Vinay Pathak performing. Centre Stage Creations distinguishes itself from other players in the Kolkata Market through its association with the G.D. Birla Sabhagar – a premiere auditorium. It is also a sister concern of Sanskriti Sagar – a non-‐profit, membership based society, devoted to promoting art and culture.
I decided to see two plays – one by the Royal Shakespeare Company (Twelfth Night), and the other was a version of Macbeth (What’s Done is Done). First, I would like to talk about the way these two plays were presented – Rather than being confined to the stage, the plays were both interactive and involved the audience’s response and connected with them on many different levels. The aim was to ensure that Shakespeare was more accessible and apt for the generation, and, to certain extent, it worked.
In Twelfth Night, the trope was brought to life with a single player playing the role of Viola, where I personally thought that anyone who hadn’t followed the story thoroughly, or did not know about the play in its full extent, would have some trouble understanding the context, and/or the extent to which the character of Viola took its gender-freedom.
On the other hand, Fergus O’Donnell as Malvolio was a rock ‘n roll version of himself, brought to life with a considerable amount of care. The fact that the character of Orsino switched with that of Sir Andrew was again, very interesting, but Dan Poole as Sir Toby was possibly the most prolific presence. I found the story’s progress, at times, confusing, but, great fun too!
On the third day, I went to see Rajat Kapoor’s version of Macbeth. It started with the introduction of two characters, one played by Vinay Pathak. Ranvir Shorey played Macbeth ‘Macky B’, and the attempt was, again, to contemporize Macbeth.
However, there were two things which puzzled me through the play. One was the strange Spanish accent and Spanish words which were brought, sometimes rather forcedly in the play. Macbeth was a good, Scottish play, but strangely enough, all the characters spoke in a rather strange faux Spanish/Italian accent which took away considerably from the play, which made them sound like the characters from Godfather (I was constantly visualizing lurid images of Don Corleone). Neither the rousing speech in the end, nor the abrupt ending of the play after Act V Sc. III, could reverse the play’s accentuated effect.
The other was the portrayal of Macbeth himself. Although in the text he is cautious, in here, he was almost like a cowardly fool, ruled by his wife, which was probably not the characterization Shakespeare wanted to provide. Of course, ‘Macky B’ is possibly corrupted by the sands of time, but still, it takes a considerable amount of courage to kill a man, or men, in his case, and someone too weak would always fail. Moreover, it wasn’t just him who saw the ghosts and nightmares – it was his wife as well – and although she had initiated the viciousness, she was the one haunted till the point where she killed herself.
On the other hand, the costumes were well-thought out, the production was almost flawless, and the wordplay was cunning. Rajat Kapoor did make a commendable version of Macbeth, and the final soliloquy that the play ends with leaves you with little chills down your spine, where the “Nothing” remains unspoken, and is, rather, felt.
Disclaimer: Poorna Banerjee was invited to the event.