Friday, August 24, 2007

Dark Nights & I Hate Hamlet

It's Friday already, is it?

This weekend marks something relatively rare in Lansing. It's a dark weekend. Originally Williamston was going to be showing Flap, but they went with a slightly shorter run. So there are no performances on area stages this weekend.

Of course, there are still things going on, mostly rehearsals and auditions. Peppermint Creek is holding auditions on Sunday and Monday and Williamston is auditioning for Art on Monday. Word is also starting to leak out about casting for the upcoming season.

I'm looking forward to getting in the theater habit again. It's been a strange summer in that I haven't spent as much time in the theater as I did during the rest of the year (well, unless you count catching 8 of the showings of Macbeth and 6 of the Henrys). However, a little down time is useful. It can be a chance to recharge and to come at shows with a fresh mind and heart again.

I Hate Hamlet

One of the shows I did manage to see recently was Riverwalk's production of Paul Rudnick's I Hate Hamlet. What a delightful script! There's so many wonderful things in it, and it is unapologetically about acting, theater, and art. It really tackles the whole subject of commercialism and art. Rudnick asks whether actors are acting for the sake of the art or simply for money. The end result, he says, will be very different.

No one is going to become a millionaire playing Shakespeare upon the stage. For that, you need to produce a movie or television show that may or may not have artistic value. While there is financial reward to the latter, he points out that there is another cost that is paid--the cost of one's soul and life.

It's a message that was made especially poignant by the performance of John Barrymore's first act speech by Bruce Bennett. Bennett did an amazing job with the monologue and made the audience feel exactly what he had sacrificed by leaving the stage. Justin Hein's Andrew Rally underlines the theme at the end with an equally strong monologue where he describes what would motivate him to turn his back on money.

Rudnick's women in this play are little more than stereotypes. They're meant to be foils and provide Andrew Rally and John Barrymore with motivations, but there aren't a lot of places that they can go. Kelley Peters has little opportunity for the girlfriend to show herself to be all that Hein's character describes her as.

There was also some excellent sword play and fighting. It was fight choreography that told a story, not one simply put on to dazzle the audience. This made it fun to watch and exhilarating.

All in all, it was an entertaining show and one which provided meat to chew on while laughing at the comedy.

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