PLACENTIA, Calif. — “What’s Done is Done,” an English play featuring major Bollywood stars Ranvir Shorey, Vinay Pathak and Kalki Koechlin, along with other theater artists and directed by actor/director Rajat Kapoor, drew engaged audiences both in Southern California and Northern California. Stage Paint Productions and Sethi Law Group along with Chateau Luxe and Holiday Inn, Hollywood Walk of Fame presented the drama July 29 at Valencia High School in Placentia, while the following day it was held at the Fox Theatre in Redwood City under the auspices of Bollywood Events and Javanika Entertainment.
Adapted from Shakespeare’s “Macbeth,” the play was presented in a clown format with clowns playing the ‘Sutradars’ leading the play, with improvised dialogues making it a situational dark comedy. Director Rajat Kapoor has previously done Indian adaptations of Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” and “King Lear.” This is the third Shakespearean tragedy that he is doing again with the clown theme.
According to Kapoor, the title of the play is derived from a line in the play and was chosen because in life we can’t really go back on what we do. The play has a big cast with almost 10 people on stage enacting different characters in clownish costumes. It also has a loosely based script, allowing the actors to improvise their act and dialogues depending on the situation but at the same time sticking to the plot and moving the story forward.
Perhaps keeping in mind the location here, the clowns are named Julio and Pedro (played brilliantly by Vinay Pathak and Jim Sarbh) and speak in Spanish accented English. They start the play by foretelling the story of Macbeth and the prophesy of the three witches predicting ominous future events. The actors intersperse their act with witty dialogues such as “What happens in Tijuana stays in Tijuana” and “Violence is the only thing that binds us humans,” and referring to gun violence in America, they ask the audience, “Did you bring a dagger to the show? And did the security not check you?” while the other clown says, “This is America, they bring guns and not daggers.”
In introducing the plot to the audience, the clowns claim to be co-producers of the play but lament that it is not a commercial success. By employing the clowns, director Kapoor provides a distance from the seriousness of the dark story and gives them liberty to twist the text and critique each other as actors even as they are in character.
Ranvir Shorey, aptly cast as Macky B., displays his ambivalence and conscience in killing King Duncan through his monologues about the prophesy of the witches that one day he will become the king of Scotland. The three witches, played by Kalki Koechlin, Tilothama Shome and Sheena Khalid, speak in an Italianesque accent.
The highlight of the play is the descent of Macky B. from a valiant soldier and noble person to a state where his greed and lust for power makes him a soulless man who hires a group of murderers to kill his friend Banquo and also his son, who escapes. Macky B., drunken with his greed for power, becomes a ruthless dictator and goes on a rampage by tightening his grip on the throne, leading to dissent and resistance from various quarters in the kingdom, finally resulting in his own demise.
The play, with its satirical, clownish characters, effectively alludes to the fact that we live in in a world where the dark forces of hatred, terrorism and racism are dividing the human race into opposite factions, and if we are not careful, we will end up electing power hungry authoritarians who could destroy the liberty and freedom that we take so much for granted.