Thoughts & Musings

You will not hate ‘I Hate Hamlet’ at 2nd Story

I Hate Hamlet is a tour de force that will have you running the gamut from giggling to laughing out loud at this clever, hysterical play by Paul Rudnick.

by Don Fowler, Cranston Herald
  • 15th July 201515/07/15
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It was a dark and stormy night.

TV actor Andrew Rally (Tom Bentley) moves into a New York City gothic apartment, once the home of John Barrymore, to study for his role of Hamlet in Shakespeare in the Park.

Andrew hates Shakespeare with a passion. He would rather be doing TV sit-coms. The real estate agent (Felicia Dantine) conjures up the ghost of Barrymore, who convinces Andrew that he can do the role.

What follows is a tour de force that will have you running the gamut from giggling to laughing out loud at this clever, hysterical play by Paul Rudnick.

John Michael Richardson steals the show as John Barrymore, dashing around the apartment, emoting from the balcony, and spewing Shakespeare’s lines, including one of the best “Speak the speech I pray you…” soliloquy’s I’ve ever heard.

Gary Peter Lefkowitz is great as Andrews’s friend Charles, who has offered him an opportunity to return to TV with a $3 million offer, tempting the actor who hates Hamlet even more after his opening performance.

While filled with physical and verbal humor, Rudnick manages to get in a few good points about art vs. TV entertainment.

At one point Charles refers to theatre acting as “algebra on stage.” “It is not something you do, it is something you buy.”

There are two running gags about Andrew’s virgin girlfriend (Erin Elliott) and Barrymore’s former one night stand (Paula Faber). Both actresses have small but powerful roles that they play to perfection.

Director Mark Peckham has a talent for comedy timing, supporting Artistic Director Ed Shea’s philosophy about giving us the full load in under two hours. He even throws in a hysterical swordfight and a tender scene between Richardson’s Barrymore and Faber’s Lillian.

2nd Story’s “I Hate Hamlet” is summer theatre at its best. It is being performed at the theatre’s upstairs playhouse in repertory with “Die, Mommie, Die” through August 30.

The always-impressive set by Trevor Elliott is used for both plays.

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