Lesser Lights Up the Stage with “I Hate Hamlet”

By Valerie Dunn
Elm Staff Writer

Romance, action, comedy, Shakespeare! These are only a few of the delights that greet us as we enter the apartment of the great and not-so-late John Barrymore, the actor famous for his seductive portrayal of Hamlet. Soliloquies and sword fights echoes throughout Tawes theatre. Regardless of a title to the contrary, I Hate Hamlet is a celebration of true theatre, and John Lesser’s senior thesis entertains as only theatre can.

Written by Paul Rudnick, I Hate Hamlet tells the story of Andrew Rally, a daytime television actor struggling to choose between the desire to make high art and the lure to make money. After a successful run in a medical drama, Andrew leaves Hollywood to test New York City and there lands the title role of Hamlet. When a real estate agent leads Andrew to Barrymore’s old apartment, Andrew is skeptical. He is also doubtful of his ability to play Hamlet.

Deidre, Andrew’s innocently romantic girlfriend, loves the apartment and wants nothing more than a boyfriend with the bravado and heroism of a Hamlet. Deidre wants a Barrymore. And Andrew quickly discovers that Hamlet is not the only man ghosts visit. The ghost of Barrymore, bound to his old apartment, haunts Andrew until the young actor fulfills his destiny to perform Hamlet.

Barrymore, even in death, is larger than life. Barrymore coaches Andrew, but ultimately teaches more than eloquent line delivery. Barrymore imparts to Andrew a love of theatre for the sake of the glory the stage can deliver.

I Hate Hamlet even answers the illusive question as Barrymore explains, “What makes an actor? Tights.”

The show combines both art and entertainment. From puns, innuendos, to physical comedy, I Hate Hamlet has a vein of funny for every audience member.

Lesser explains, “I love comedies; if I can make other people laugh, all the better… and I wanted something with a fight scene.”

He goes on to explain the challenges of putting together such a grandiose show, “I’m used to being an actor, I’ve only directed one directing scene before this. There’s a lot more to this…”

The performances of I Hate Hamlet only compliment Lesser’s second directing endeavor. Freshman Nick Staub shines as television star and stage slum Andrew Rally. Senior Benjamin Seingalt is the arrogantly charming John Barrymore. Together, Staub and Seingalt are an impeccable team. Sophomore Carrissa Marcelle flutters with endearing naïveté as the literature-loving Deidre. Sophomore Harris Allgeier brings Hollywood to the stage as Gary, Andrew’s director and friend. Senior Stephanie Brown is also enjoyable as Andrew’s chain-smoking German agent, Lillian Troy. Senior Virginia Long completes the picture as sassy real-estate agent Felicia. As a cast, the characters are hilarious parodies with genuine desires.

The Shakespearean premise should not deter the audience. In fact, the premise of the play invites just the opposite.

Seingalt explains, “Just because something is antiquated doesn’t mean it isn’t enjoyable.”

The play is the thing, and I Hate Hamlet conjures the magic that makes it such.

I Hate Hamlet will run Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. in Tawes Theatre.

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