I don’t like it (I really did like it!), As you like it

Posted on 28 March, 2017 by Team Wishberry

Rajat Kapoor’s I don’t like it, As you like it, at first glance, is a simplistic take on Shakespeare’s famous comedy — it’s easy, right? — clowns playing out a comedy that hinges on the battles of sexes? — Because clowns are supposed to be ‘funny’, right — not so fast, people.
For, in this clown-world, the directore (Popo) has a burning desire to produce one good play, a clown is in love with melancholia yet is clown-like; in this universe lovers turn foes and a clown clowns around with others with little or no regard for the clown in love with her! The pot is already stirred and it spills over at curtain call.

Entry is from stage right, right?

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Statutory warning: Gibberish to follow

These clowns call their rehearsal space home — they have been here for long and have established relationships that go above and beyond their ‘professional’ equations. And, when the two worlds meet, there is mayhem. Young and in love Coco and Mimi are slated to play Orlando and Rosalind. However, directore wants new entrant to the company Gigi to try out for Rosalind as well — Mischief-maker Mimi will have none of it — she is a thief — not only does she steal lines from other clowns but loots their pauses as well! Egos begin to clash — directore doesn't like it. To add to his woes, poor Fido who plays Silvius pines after Fifi who plays Phoebe and is more interested in others rather than Fido and his love that is the equivalent of being her doormat (this is, after all, the era of friendzoning and one-night stands)! If only someone had poor directore’s back. But, no — he has to deal with Soso (a so-so clown) whose only close bond is Toto, his puppet (Toto hates the play and knows that the clowns will not do a good job!). Phew!

One would hope for the clowns’ sake that nothing else goes wrong for them — but, the actual ‘bossie’ of the play is not going to let them off the hook that easily! Bad news hits the clown company… their rehearsal space is soon going to be turned into a mall (a reference to the shrinking of ‘space’ in public spheres for art that initiates dialogue and therefore, in all probability, challenges the status quo). They troupe moves to the garden of Arden and ‘clowns-out’ the rest of the act.

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Rajat Kapoor’s use of space and interesting in this play — the garden of Arden is bright and colourful — but the peace of this quiet corner is disrupted when directore decides that gender roles will be swapped — the men will play women and the women, men — now, Coco, a man, is playing Rosalind who in the play masquerades as a man (a man plays a woman who disguises herself as a man!). This muddling of gender is a brilliant ploy and adds to the hilarity already on display. A befuddled Coco blurting out that he is indeed unsure if he is man or woman at the moment — a crying Mimi (who is playing Orlando) is consoled by Coco (man playing a woman playing a man) — once Soso becomes a woman (from Jacque to Jacqueline) he truly realises that melancholia can affect both men and women — in Kapoor’s world, ‘boys know they can cry’.

I was expecting to be thoroughly entertained by I don’t like it and I wasn’t disappointed — what I liked more is the fact that even in comedy Rajat Kapoor and his clowns manage to deliver lines and present scenarios that will make you sit up and take notice… The Bard too used jesters to make the most pertinent points in his plays.

After all, “All the world’s a stage” — it is also “just two laughs and a death away from being a tragedy”.

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