I Hate Hamlet
The dead debate the living in a New York apartment
By Heidi Masek firstname.lastname@example.org
There’s sword-fighting, ghosts and a 29-year-old virgin in I Hate Hamlet, by Paul Rudnick, which Milford Area Players will stage for two weekends starting Thursday, July 14, at the Amato Center for the Performing Arts in Milford.
“I’ve always liked the show, it’s a great read,” said director Mike Wood of Nashua. Rudnick also writes for Vanity Fair and the New York Times and wrote screenplays for In and Out, Addams Family Values, and The Stepford Wives.
“This TV actor, picture somebody from E.R., rents an apartment in New York that used to be owned by John Barrymore, Drew’s grandfather,” Wood explained about the 1990s play. Barrymore, a legendary Shakespearean actor in the 1920s, starts haunting the place when Andrew Rally, the TV actor, gets a gig playing Hamlet in Shakespeare in the Park, a character he hates. Side stories involve Rally’s girlfriend, the “last 29-year-old virgin,” his L.A. agent best friend, and his Queens real estate agent who had a fling with Barrymore in the same apartment once upon a time.
Wood, a Nashua Theatre Guild board member, pitched the play to MAP last year because he identified with the main character.
“I’m not a Shakespeare fan personally, and the irony of the play is that he hates Hamlet.”
NTG does Shakespeare in the Park every summer. I Hate Hamlet isn’t “anti-Shakespeare, Wood said. “I think if you worked with Shakespeare, you kind of appreciate the irreverence for it but ultimately the respect for the language, the history all comes to fruition.”
Wood said this is challenging to produce for community theater. As a ghost story, the play requires special effects like candles and fireplaces that turn on and off of their own accord. It also requires a two-tier set.
“It’s rare to have 16-foot walls in community theater,” Wood said. It’s tough on the budget. “The Mildford Area Players committed to make this special,” Wood said.
I Hate Hamlet challenges actors as well. Chris Jones of Townsend, Mass., who plays John Barrymore, and Will McGregor of Lowell, Mass., who plays Andrew Rally, are on stage for almost the entire play. There’s also the 20 hours they spent rehearsing a sword fight. “It added such an essential element to the show having the sword fight look like a sword fight rather than a couple people who don’t know what they’re doing...” Wood said. McGregor, Wood and actress Gail Angellis in the show all worked with the same acting teacher.