LOL on the stage

The Class Act is an out-and-out comedy, which has returned to the stage after a gap of two years.

Last Sunday, the audience seated inside the Tata Theatre at NCPA, were overheard laughing loudly every few seconds and breaking into an applause, every now and then. The Class Act, a Silly Point Production, brought to you by Maruti Suzuki Zee Theatre, which returned to the stage after a gap of two years, was being performed and the audience was having a ball of a time watching the actors, prompting Sunil Buch, CEO Zee Live and Zee Talent, to remark, “The name of this play can actually be changed from The Class Act to A Riot Act!”

Return to stage
The English comedy revolves around the activities of an acting class, run by a stiff upper-lipped teacher, played by Meherzad Patel, who has also directed the play. The rest of the cast includes Danesh Irani, who plays a 50-year-old Parsi bachelor, Sajeel Parakh, a clean-shaven Muslim lad obsessed with William Shakespeare, Danesh Khambata, a veteran Hindu theatre artiste and Afshad Kelawala, a typical laid-back Goan Christian guy. The chaos further accentuates with the arrival of Maanvi Gagroo, who plays a wannabe actress.

Talking about the play, which opened first in June 2010 and has now been revived, Meherzad says, “Even though it has done more than a 100 shows, it didn’t get its due. We stopped doing this play in 2015 as we started doing its sequel, Laughter Therapy, and now have brought this back for it to get the credit it deserves.” And it has worked and how! “Usually, we have a couple of our friends dropping in backstage post the show. Strangers don’t do that. But last Sunday, very few friends came backstage, which means about a 1,000 strangers came and watched the play, expecting to be entertained. That’s something I really appreciate,” he smiles.

Humour takes centrestage
While the play is an out-and-out comedy, it does have its serious moments, that highlight the underlying prejudices that exist within many of us. “And that’s why you have these over-the-top stereotypes in the play, because I believe that in order to break stereotypes, you have to make stereotypes. The intention isn’t religion, it’s community. The community needs to realise that these stereotypes and prejudices are unfair,” he says. Danesh Irani seconds his opinion. “The beauty of the play is that it deals with real issues. Unfortunately, people actually talk like this,” he says. And the best way to do that, says Meherzad, is to use humour. “It comes out in the way the characters have been sketched,” adds Afshad Kelawala.

Revealing an interesting piece of trivia about the play, Afshad says that one of the funniest sequences — the props sequence —was almost dropped when they first started the play in 2010. “That’s true,” laughs Meherzad, “When you’re rehearsing and don’t have an audience in front of you, you don’t know if something would work the way you want it or not. Fortunately, an actor friend of ours who watched a rehearsal convinced us to retain it. Till date, he takes credit for it!

The next show of The Class Act is on October 2 at Royal Opera House.

Published on DNA