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Who killed Shakespeare? – malayalam play, “Champagne”

Who killed Shakespeare?

SUGANTHY KRISHNAMACHARI

The Bard is confronted by characters, who accuse him of ill-treatment.

TAUT SCRIPT: Champagne.

Team Arts’ Malayalam play ‘Champagne’ (script and direction K. Mohan) opens in Dr. Shivaji Chaturvedi’s (Shivaji Chaturvedi) clinic. Prof. Ramakrishnan (Dr. A.V. Anoop) is an industrialist, whose magnificent obsession is Shakespeare, not just his plays, but the manner of his death too. Was Shakespeare’s death a natural one? If not, who killed him and why? These are the questions that keep gnawing at Ramakrishnan.

Ramakrishnan’s favourite liquor is Champagne, because it was Shakespeare’s favourite too! But when he has had one too many, Ramakrishnan goes berserk.

His protégé and faithful employee – Anantapadmanabhan (Girish Vallathol) – brings Ramakrishnan to Dr. Shivaji’s clinic, hoping he will be cured.

Characters from Shakespeare’s plays appear on stage, and are shown as being resentful about the way the playwright has portrayed them!

Cassio vs. Othello

Desdemona is angry with Shakespeare for having paired her with Othello, whose mistrust of his wife borders on the pathological, and she walks off with Cassio, who, she says, is more dependable than Othello! Iago, Othello, Cassio – all the characters line up and curse Shakespeare for endowing them with negative traits, just so that his story could proceed towards a tragic denouement. They all wish him an untimely and unnatural death!

‘Champagne,’ which had a taut script, adequate sets and good acting, had a refreshingly different approach to Shakespeare. There was a twist in the story, which would have caused Shakespeare to remark on the “daggers in men’s smiles.” The frenzied dancing (neatly choreographed by Sooraj Menon), captured the mental turmoil of Ramakrishnan. The character Shanmugasundaram (Kathadi Ramamurthy) was not necessary for the flow of the narrative, but it gave Kathadi an opportunity to show that he can not only deliver witty dialogue with ease, but can move the audience to tears.

‘Champagne’ raised the question of whether the weak plots, contrived characterisation, and the macabre incidents in some of Shakespeare’s plays could have been a result of his troubled personal life.

There were some aberrations that should have been avoided. Since when did psychiatrists start doing post mortems? The loud background music and flute playing were annoying and drowned out the dialogue in many places. ‘Champagne’ did not benumb the senses with the sort of platitudinous statements that are associated with the Bard, but with its off the beaten track approach to Shakespeare, it set one thinking.

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