Due to its on-point representation, Nothing Like Lear took the audience through a roller coaster ride of emotions, says Ayushi Sharma
Ever thought what a clown does when he is depressed? He fakes smiles, makes the audience burst out in laughter even though deep down, he is unwilling to speak. There’s some agony that’s keeping him from being happy. Well, just a day ago, I came across one who hasn’t stopped crying since days and has plenty of reasons for it. The one he loved the most has left him and gone overseas. He is left with nothing now. Also, the fact that he’s getting older.
The play, Nothing Like Lear, started with actor Vinay Pathak entering the stage just in time, dressed as a clown, with his big brown briefcase. He tried to keep it very intimate so he started interacting with the audience by repeating the words, ‘it hasn’t started yet’, ‘you didn’t miss anything’, ‘people are still coming in, it’s the capital you see’. The audience couldn’t agree more with him and laughed their hearts out, waiting eagerly for the lights to get dim and the play to kick off. Indeed, true. It’s the capital and how on earth the people could be on time. The play was an adaptation of Shakespeare’s King Lear by Rajat Kapoor, who delivered it with his own little twists and turns at the third edition of the Delhi Theatre Festival.
King Lear is one of the most famous tragedies of William Shakespeare. It was believed to have been written between 1605-1606 and was based on a legend of the Leir of Britain, a pre-Roman Celtic king from mythology. It was a story full of betrayal, death and one’s descent into madness. Nothing Like Lear was way across the borders but it was a tragedy nevertheless.
As the plot proceeded towards a Lear-like flashback, Pathak’s exceptional one-and-half-hour monologue recalled how he did not want his daughter to grow old quickly. It was when his daughter tried to stand up while crawling with the help of the table’s leg, he amusingly pushed her down to stop her from being on her own this early. And said, ‘Why are you in a hurry to grow up? Keep crawling, my child! The world is bad for you to be out there.’ While it attracted some grins and giggles, it was also quite disheartening to see him go through the pain of being separated from the loved ones at a certain age. His daughter refused to let him in, even though he travelled across borders just to see her. Due to its on-point representation, it took us through a roller coaster ride of emotions that made us fear growing old and the sense of losing the loved ones.
His acting conveyed each emotion so realistically that it felt like it was everything you have already witnessed or going to witness in your life.
Pathak, through the play, conveyed about his various encounters with depression, the major one being parting from his daughter, who meant the world to him. He also talked about how good his brother is in acting and how he would have played a particular scene differently with much intense passion. He portrayed that he was a mere fool presenting this play. If it would have been his brother, the play would have been so much better. Between these tales, he also enacted the scenes from King Lear. The scenes were intensely interwoven with the tales from his life. And it is at that moment when one would have realised the relevance of Shakespeare even today.
Not only did Pathak manage to capture the attention of the audience for the whole duration of the show but his portrayal of different characters impressed us the most. With a slight change in his voice, he was a different person altogether. There were moments when he tried to recall some specific terms with the help of the audience. Although he explicitly asked us to not to help him instantly and gave us a tag of the “educated audience,” who knows everything.
To see King Lear through the eyes of a clown was to see him as a man, as a father, as an outcast and as a child. It was like to view a fool through the eyes of a fool. Pathak lived his entire life within the tempest of the theatre. The search for a contemporary tale of a father and a daughter was brought to life by the one man, who portrayed the grain of Shakespeare’s fiction brilliantly. Although the play was an arduous journey of every emotion, its length played a bit negative role.
Writer: Ayushi Sharma
Courtesy: The Pioneer