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March 26, 2013 > Theatre Review: 'I Hate Hamlet' hits comedy heights

Theatre Review: 'I Hate Hamlet' hits comedy heights

By Julie Grabowski
Photos By Dan Sparks

If the thought of Hamlet or Shakespeare makes you cringe, Broadway West delivers the ultimate balm with Paul Rudnick's hilarious "I Hate Hamlet." What, you ask, can possibly be funny about anything having to do with Hamlet? Here the answer is clear: everything.

TV actor Andrew Rally has arrived in New York with the not-so-welcome prospects of living in a dramatic, gothic apartment and performing the role of Hamlet in Shakespeare in the Park. Though his agent, girlfriend, and even realtor are on board with the idea, Rally resists: he hates Hamlet! When it is revealed that the apartment once belonged to the late John Barrymore, known as the greatest Hamlet of his time, it seems Rally is destined for the role. He is further strong-armed when the ghost of Barrymore arrives to help him prepare for the demanding part, unable to return to the great beyond until his task is accomplished and Rally plays Hamlet.

The only one dissuading him is his director friend from LA who pitches an appealing TV offer, likening Shakespeare to "algebra on stage" and counseling Rally that "you don't do art, you buy it." Rally's emotions are further wrought by his Shakespeare-loving and steadfastly chaste girlfriend who wants a love for the ages and is determined to make sure she has the right guy before taking things to the bedroom.

Art versus fame, TV versus theatre, or as Barrymore labels the dilemma, "artist or lunchbox?" Will Rally face the Bard and his greatest career challenge and secure the affections of the girl he loves or take a lucrative TV deal assuring high visibility and easy living?

Broadway West delivers a great night of live theatre with laughs coming fast and thick from all quarters. From the opening announcement to the final bow, you'll find your face set in an unshakable smile. The six-member cast is uniformly fantastic and funny, each contributing to the hilarity of the show and providing rock-solid entertainment.

James Lucas is outstanding as the theatrical, champagne swilling John Barrymore who insists, "I don't overact, I simply posses the emotional resources of 10 men." Lucas himself has admirable resources and uses them all to great effect; each raised eyebrow, hand flourish, and booming pronouncement, a deliciously captivating and hilarious show. Adam Magill plays the conflicted Andrew Rally with infinite humor and skill, and pairs with Lucas to make an extremely engaging duo that can do no wrong.

Melinda Marks pops with enthusiasm and passion as Rally's smart, supportive girlfriend Deirdre, and the performances of Doll Piccotto (estate agent/psychic Felicia) and Matt Singer (LA director Gary Peter Lefkowitz) are lively and memorable and just too much fun. Shareen Merriam rounds out the crew as the more serious and grounded German agent Lillian, taking wonderful possession of the lady who once had a fling with Barrymore and can still throw off a little spark.

Shakespeare, a seance, swordplay, champagne, passion, and the greatest parting bow you've ever seen; Broadway West strikes comedy gold with "I Hate Hamlet" and delivers an outstanding night of entertainment. There is no wavering on this decision: get thee to the theatre!

Tickets are $25 general admission and $20 for students, seniors, and TBA members. Thursday, March 28, April 11 and 18 performances are $17 for everyone, with a bargain Thursday on April 4 - all tickets $10 (no reservations: first come, first seat). There are three Sunday matinees; March 31 and April 7 performances begin with a continental brunch at 12:15 p.m. and the show starts at 1 p.m., and the April 14 performance starts at 1 p.m. with refreshments during intermission. Sunday matinees are $25 for everyone. All ticket prices include refreshments.

For reservations and information, call (510) 683-9218, or purchase tickets online at www.broadwaywest.org.

I Hate Hamlet
Mar 22 - Apr 20
8 p.m. (Sundays at 1 p.m.)
Broadway West Theatre Company
4000-B Bay St., Fremont
(510) 683-9218
www.broadwaywest.org
Tickets: $10 - $25

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