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entire contents copyright 2004 by Tony Annicone

"I Hate Hamlet"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

The Granite Theatre's second show of their season is Paul Rudnick's hilarious comedy, "I Hate Hamlet". Andrew Rally seems to have it all:celebrity and acclaim from his starring role in his hit TV series, a rich, beautiful girlfriend, a devoted agent, the perfect New York apartment and a chance to play Hamlet in Central Park. There are a couple of glitches, Andrew's series has been canceled, his girlfriend is clinging to her virginity with unyielding conviction and he has no desire to play Hamlet. During her first visit to the apartment, the agent reminisces about her brief romance with John Barrymore many years ago. This prompts the real estate agent to stage a seance to summon his ghost. From the moment Barrymore returns, dressed in high Shakespeaream garb, Andrew's life is no longer his own. Add his wild and crazy producer friend from L.A. spouting his hype about a fabulous deal worth millions and you have the makings for well paced and comic romp that follows. Director Arthur Pignataro casts topnotch actors in all the roles, making this one of the best shows of the season.

Arthur blocks this show expertly, too, having the cast use the whole playing area of the gorgeous two story set designed by David Jepson. The apartment has red walls with mahogny railing adding to the 1930's decor. Arthur keeps the actors on their toes with scenes flowing smoothly from start to finish, maintaining the interest of the audience and leading to much laughter. Stage manager Morgan Ban Draoi keeps the actors ready for their entrances and exits and handles the setting of props during the show, too. Tai Scavetta handles many light and sound cues especially effective are the lightning and thunder sequences.

Jason Andoscia is fantastic as Andrew Rally. His comic timing and line delivery in this role is wonderful. He grows from insecure TV actor into an actor longing to improve his craft by having Barrymore continue to tutor him as a stage performer. Jason delivers many laughs in this part and shows his own growth as an actor in this role. The flamboyant and larger than life John Barrymore is expertly played by veteran actor, Michael Thurber. He is a joy to watch onstage and this role fits him to a tee. Michael is clad in black tights, white tunic and spouting hilarious lines. But he also gets the point across to Andrew it is more important to be a good actor than a rich actor doing trash on TV. The sword play between Jason and Michael is fantastic and some of the best timed I have seen. (Michael stops to take a drink during the sword fight which is a hoot.) Bravo on two excellent performances.

The rest of the cast lives up to the high standards set by these two splendid actors. Christina Saad Wolfskehl is brilliant as Andrew's virginal girlfriend, Deirdre. Her high energy performance is wonderful to watch and she captures the spirit of this exuberant girl beautifully. Christine Reynolds is hilarious as Felicia, the real estate agent who is a psyhic and calls Barrymore back to life. Her New York accent is just right for this role and she makes her character come alive. Carol Forrest is humorous as Andrew's German agent, Lillian. Her accent is perfect in this part and she delivers her usual topnotch performance, too. She has a nice dancing scene with Barrymore where they remember their past trist. John Brennan is a hoot as the fast talking, smarmy director pal, Gary. He has many funny lines and delivers them while getting many laughs. This is a well directed and acted show that shines through and deserves many kudos for everyone who work on it.

So for a fantastic evening of comic entertainment with a Shakespearean flavor, be sure to catch "I Hate Hamlet" at the Granite Theatre. You won't be disappointed. Tell them Tony sent you.

"I Hate Hamlet" (16 April - 9 May)
1 Granite Street,WESTERLY R I
1 (401)596-2341

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide