Year of Shakespeare: All's Well That Ends Well

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  1. It works like the best kind of Bollywood film: there is passion, pain, a stout matriarch and the stirring sounds of harmonium and tabla from three musicians on stage. The largely British-Asian audience roared with laughter at the clever put-downs and – with visual jokes and beautifully sung soliloquies – time skipped by, even for this non-Gujarati speaker.
  2. It is such a pleasure to see a play that is coherent, rigorous in its attention to detail, where the pace never flags and the performers are fully charged throughout. Maro Piyu Gayo Rangoon is simultaneously Shakespeare and Gujarati. That is what makes it a truly remarkable achievement.
  3. Though it's new, Mihir Buhta's Gujarati adaptation is in the tradition of so-called bhangwadi theatre, which appeared in Mumbai in the 19th century and continued as late as the 70s; performances are broad-brush, and every few minutes someone breaks into song, accompanied by an onstage three-piece band. In some ways, this act of recolonisation is a masterstroke: so many things about the play make sense in an Indian context, from febrile anxieties about class (Bharatram/Bertram seems horrified less by the concept of an arranged marriage than by his bride's lowly status) to the simmering tensions between country poverty and bling-obsessed city.
  4. It is not unusual to note that, when adapting classical English texts that particularly deal with class systems and social hierarchies, from Shakespeare to Austen, the Indian caste system lends itself particularly well to direct translation.
  5. All's Well That Ends Well @The_Globe #G2G - brilliant production that actually seemed to make sense of the bizarre plot!
  6. the women were granted a pride of place not often found in English-language stagings of this play, Nishi Doshi's Alkini a far more robust figure than Shakespeare's equivalent Diana. Given her own song with which to woo the crowd, Alkini became Heli's genuine ally, not just a plot device on the way to meeting the conditions that will force Bharatram's hand by play's end.
  7. All's Well That Ends Well is one of Shakespeare's grey plays, classified as a comedy only because the girl gets the boy in the end, not however, through the power of love, but through clever plotting and subterfuge. The end may seem happy, but the King of France has his doubts: "All yet seems well, and if it end so meet / The bitter past, more welcome is the sweet." In the Gujarati adaptation, Mihir Bhuta recasts the play in the form of a Bhangwadi-style musical, peppers it with wise and witty dialogue, gets rid of its grey tones and sub-plots, and builds instead on the twists and turns of the main plot. He replaces the King of France, the benefactor of the caddish hero, Bertram, with the imperious merchant prince Gokuldas Gandhi of Bombay (Utkarsh Muzumdar), uncle to Bharat Ram (Chirag Vora). In place of the French battlefield where Bertram's valour is to be tested, he gives us the overseas opium trade in which Bharat Ram's business acumen is to be honed. Unlike Bertram, Bharat Ram is allowed redemption at the end when he gives up gallivanting and returns to his mother and lawfully wedded wife, Heli. The end is thus unambiguously happy.
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