Theatre Mirror Reviews - "I HATE HAMLET"

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide


"What Happened in Boston, Willie"

Reviews of Current Productions

Note: Entire Contents Copyright 2017 by Tony Annicone


Reviewed by Tony Annicone

JMG Theater's current show at the Arctic Playhouse is "I Hate Hamlet" by Paul Rudnick. Andrew Rally seems to have it all, celebrity, a long running TV series, a beautiful, rich girl friend, a devoted agent, a perfect New York apartment once owned by John Barrymore and a chance to play Hamlet in Central Park. There are a couple of glitches, Andrew's series has been cancelled, his girlfriend is clinging to her virginity, and he has no desire to play Hamlet. During her initial visit to the apartment, the German agent, Lillian, reminisces about her brief encounter with John Barrymore many years ago. This prompts the real estate agent to conduct a seance to summon his ghost. From the moment Barrymore returns, dressed in Shakespearean garb, Andrew's life is no longer his own. Add a flamboyant deal making hot shot producer from Hollywood, spouting a new TV deal for millions and you have the ingredients for this well written and directed show. Director Christian O'Brien casts topnotch comic performers in these comic roles and obtains stunning performances from all of them.

Christian blocks the show beautifully especially the seance scene and Barrymore with Lillian scene. Another outstanding moment in the show is the swordfight at the end of Act 1 between Andrew and Barrymore. The gorgeous Greenwich Village apartment set is by Lloyd Felix and Jim Belanger. Chris Plonka is splendid as Andrew Rally and wins the hearts of the audience with this appealing character. His verbal sparring with the other characters about taking on the role of Hamlet is very funny. Chris as Andrew grows from insecure actor into an actor longing to improve his craft with Barrymore tutoring him. Chris' facial expressions and reactions to the crazy Barrymore antics are priceless, too. The flamboyant and larger than life John Barrymore is expertly played by Rick Bagley. He has many one liners that are hilarious as he steals many a scene because this role fits him to a tee. Rick also has some serious moments when he encourages Andrew to seek the truth in his acting. Barrymore tells Andrew not to sell out and confesses that he left the theater because of memory problems, inducing him to enter films. One of his funniest lines is when he proclaims that actors playing Hamlet stuff their tights with socks, newspapers and some times anything they can find. Both leads are fantastic in this show.

The rest of the cast live up to the high standards of these two splendid actors. Caraline Connor, a beautiful red head is brilliant as Deidre, Andrew's virginal girlfriend. She captures the exuberant nature of this girl especially in the last scene when she thinks Andrew's playing Hamlet makes him sexy and appealing. Caraline is ethereal and high energy in this role. Maureen Noel is hilarious as the German agent who once dated Barrymore. Her accent is terrific and lines are comical but she also has a touching scene with Barrymore in Act 2. Where they dance together and she leads him upstairs for unfinished business. Kathy Russell is humorous as the real estate agent who channels her mother to conduct the seance. Her voice as the mother in the seance is very funny. Alvaro Beltran is a hoot as the pushy, skirt chasing producer who tries to entice Andrew to return to Hollywood for a three million dollar deal. So for a laugh riot of a show, be sure to catch "I Hate Hamlet" at Arctic Playhouse. Tell them Tony sent you.

I HATE HAMLET (13 to 28 January)
Arctic Playhouse, JMG Theater, 117 Washington St, West Warwick, RI

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide