‘ All the world’s a stage; And all the men and women merely players’….. remarked the Great Shakespeare in his play, As you like it. And as I sit pondering over these lines, I am reminded of a play that I watched quite recently; yes another play with Shakespearean roots, called- Nothing like Lear. Directed by Rajat Kapoor, this play employs a solitary character (played by Atul Kumar on stage), and it employs various themes like conflict, relationships, betrayal, compassion, madness and reconciliation from Shakespeare’s King Lear, amalgamates it with a tinge of contemporariness and presents to us as the protagonists’ own personal fears and tumultuous experiences. In short, watching it was a memorable experience.
Not merely a comedy play
Nothing like Lear is much more than a laugh riot; it is an expression of life. It can be oddly unsettling- something like participating in a game of one-upmanship between the actor and the audience. As you walk into the auditorium, you see the actor, Atul Kumar, saying in a very matter of factly manner- The play will start in 5 minutes, so I will start my act only after 5 minutes. In these 5 minutes, Atul Kumar, the solo actor in this play, will captivate your heart and soul like no-one before. And while you are so mesmerized by the affairs in his life, he will talk about his family members and you would start feeling that they are standing there, right in front of you, on the stage, as he starts describing them.
However, however, however…. This play also highlights the pained relationship he shared with his daughter, and when he starts describing it, we could all feel a sharp pang in our hearts- as if we shared common grief. In fact, even sorrow looked beautiful during the course of the play.
A perfect amalgamation of comedy, silence, poignancy and horror that would stay with you till the end.
Nothing like Lear, features, quite literally The Clown, who in search of humor makes us acquainted with the insecurities of his life, at the heart of which, as it has already been mentioned earlier in the article, is his unhappy relationship with his daughter. The entire play seemed like Shakespeare has been revolutionized into something newer to fit the quirks and eccentricities of the modern lifestyle. We could imagine the response and reaction of the old King Lear, if he indeed was trapped in the same situation as the protagonist of the play.
A play to nourish your soul
This play refuses to leave me and my mind, as it felt that I was experiencing the pain, anguish, and joys of the protagonist. I felt as if I was the protagonist himself. It, indeed was a strange experience because it looked fictitious and real at the same time. This play has greatly influenced me as an audience and has helped me come to terms with the little ironies of life and embrace them wholeheartedly, because life, with its small packages of joys and sorrows, is beautiful.