Among various mediums, theatre has always been a frontrunner for showing a mirror to the society pertaining to its various hypocrisies. It is the possibility of the off-beat genres like physical, abstract and alternative theatre that further helps its cause.
Theatre artist Parnab Mukherjee (not to be confused with the current President of India) has always used the medium to throw uncomfortable questions at the society in his own hard-hitting style. He continues that with his yet another hard-hitting alternative theatre piece ‘Museum Of Million Hamlets’, which was recently staged at Mumbai’s St. Xavier’s College during their festival Malhaar.
The play is a mono act by Mukherjee himself. He plays a person who is just out of college wondering what profession he should enter. His father allows him to try his hand at four different professions failing to which he would be forced to enter the profession of the former’s choice. As he sets about and tries various unusual professions, he throws light on various issues revolving around us.
One can feel the alternative genre right at the start when the performer wraps bundles of scotch tape on a chair, takes its end in the crowd and finally wraps it on his face. It will be an understatement that such unusual symbolism will get you completely involved in the proceedings. Playing disturbing videos and the live performance of Bengali songs add to the intensity. The unusual and abstract questions will also have the same effect.
But soon the questions will force us to condemn a lot of things around us. Despite the questions being of the abstract nature, they are directly related to the kind of lives we are living, the various hypocrisies we are indulging in and the incidents we are conveniently ignoring to comfort ourselves. There are various metaphors that become a sharp attack on the ruling class that uses the masses as a remote control. Along with many such aspects, what deserves special mention is its obsession with Hamlet as an answer for many questions.
This part about Hamlet could have been shortened though. Plus, although this is not a negative point as such, the play won’t be understood or enjoyed by those only preferring conventional theatre.
The genre doesn’t require any extensive set designing. The chairs, along with the scotch tape, as mentioned above, and film screens are the only properties used and they perfectly help in complementing the content.
Coming to the performance of Parnab Mukherjee, he is brilliant! It is amazing to see him bring the right kind of madness and energy needed to perform something as complex as this.
Overall, ‘Museum Of Million Hamlets’ is an interesting hard-hitting experience.
Directed By: Parnab Mukherjee
Written By: Parnab Mukherjee
Cast: Parnab Mukherjee
Presented By: Best of Kolkata Campus Theatre