Stereotypes are one of those things that you can love or hate (most people prefer the latter) but you definitely cannot ignore it. It is easy to fix people into stereotypical boxes and it is much difficult to see beyond the stereotypes. If you think Meherzad Patel's The Class Act is going to show you much beyond the stereotypes with a diverse bunch of characters, you are right and you are in for a laughter ride. You can be sure that there is going to be something worthwhile on the stage when the play is being performed for the 101st time. On Sunday I was fortunate enough to catch the 101st performance of The Class Act and it definitely was a class apart.
The Class Act has been performed for the last four years now and it is one of those stories which don't seem to get old. We have Sajeel Parakh as Mohammad registering for an acting workshop. He is greeted by a middle-aged Parsi Mr. Siganporia. Not long after that, enters Mr. William (Meherzad Patel) who is actually the conductor of the workshop while Mohammad and Mr. Siganporia are registering. As the duo entered into a verbal tussle enters Maanvi Gagroo as a TV actress Dolly who has been sent by her casting director to learn the finer aspects of acting. Soon, we have Danesh Khambata as a theatre purist and Afshad Kelawala as Victor completes the class. As soon as all are in class and the class begins, you go on a merry chase with some heartfelt moments along the way.
Within the first ten minutes of the play, all the characters are well-established and you know what to expect from each of them. Mohammad is a Shakespeare aficionado and cannot help quoting the bard (most of the time erroneously). Mr. Siganporia is what you would call a typical Parsi guy who cannot help but hit on Dolly while at the same time judging everyone else based on their faith. Mr. William is that patient professor we all wish we had while he tries to make sure everyone is getting their money's worth and also resorting to school teacher tactics (like throwing people out of the class) to achieve the same.
Danesh Irani and Afshad Kelawala stand out as their performances are mind-blowing and they will make you laugh irrespective of whether they are talking or now. The writing is funny and the direction leaves a lot of room for improv and the actors make a lot of use of that. Even though the play is old, they have made some changes to keep up with the current times. You see the actors miming (rather excellently), play-acting and even performing monologues. In the end, nothing really changes for the characters except that they and the audience go back home a little wiser.
The Class Act is one of the few plays that has a sequel. And as we know only good first parts get a sequel. If you haven't watched it yet, you can book tickets to their next performance here.