IWMBuzz reviews theatrical play 'Nothing Like Lear'

Review of play ‘Nothing Like Lear’: A stellar one-man monologue act

Play: Nothing Like Lear

Director: Rajat Kapoor

Cast: Vinay Pathak

Ratings: 3.5 stars

Whenever we talk about English literature and high-quality playwriting, the name of the genius ‘Shakespeare’ is what hits our minds instantly. Shakespearean tales and plays have been famous around the entire world and the adaptations of the same are the most beautiful. We all are aware of the character of ‘King Lear’ as introduced by Shakespeare right? King Lear was one such ‘benevolent’ king who would fall for flattery and false-pleasing ahead of genuineness. That’s the very reason we read about how he passes over his entire wealth to only two of his daughters ignoring the third one because apparently she didn’t go ‘all-out’ to express her love for her father. Rajat Kapoor’s ‘Nothing Like Lear’ although is not like the tragic expression of Shakespeare’s ‘King Lear’ which is considered as one of the greatest tragedies of all time, Vinay Pathak as joker Clad makes you empathize with his characters and emotional overflow.

The 1 hour 20 minutes duration play begins with Vinay entering the stage rather abruptly. It tends to initially confuse the audience as the ‘Clown’ comes and says monologues like ‘The play is yet to start etc etc’ but eventually the audience realizes that it was actually an ’emotion within an emotion’ as the narrative has already begun.

Vinay Pathak is the sole protagonist and ‘antagonist’ in the whole play whose portrayal of the ‘Clown’ makes you feel sad for him even more. What’s ironic is the way tragedy has been expressed in the portrayal of a ‘clown’ which directly resonates with ‘comedy and laughter’. It shows you that despite one might look like a ‘happy soul’ from outside, the inner cracks might well be hidden deep inside to not let the outer world be affected by own’s tragedy and that’s where Rajat and Vinay absolutely stun together in the portrayal and depiction.

The narrative further flows smoothly with Vinay (Clad) talking about the emotional battles and struggles he dealt with when it came to his brother and daughter. He narrates how he has battled depression especially after how his daughter had moved away to France. And amidst all this narration, he quickly wears the character of the real King Lear and the monologues that go further make you relate to his own tragic life with that of King Lear’s. This jump in narrative from one tale to the other is certain to get the audience moved and emotional because it is almost certain that almost every member of the audience listening to the tale, they are certain to relate with the story-telling in some way or the other.

Another commendable thing which Vinay does is by smoothly swapping characters in between when he also simultaneously engages in impromptu real-life conversations with the audience. It makes you wonder how can one actor swap so wonderfully and quickly between multiple characters in the same play while also getting his reality out when engaging in conversations with the audience.

Overall, a classic tale of tragedy, kudos to Rajat Kapoor and Vinay Pathak for bringing out and adapting Shakespearean tragedy in a very realistic way with which the readers and viewers of the modern-era can relate to. Overall, it’s a fine watch if you are into ‘realism’. Don’t however if emotional roller-coaster rides are not for you. However, it deserves a watch simply for the sheer brilliance of Vinay Pathak who shows his versatility in every way possible.

3.5/5 stars

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