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I Hate Hamlet On Stage at 2nd Space

IN THE June 29 ISSUE

FROM THE 2016 Articles,
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by Terrance Mc Arthur

Take a cancelled TV actor and offer him the greatest role of the English-language theatre…Hamlet. Put him in the apartment of the late John Barrymore, who became a star by playing the Melancholy Dane. Is it any wonder the young man sees a ghost? I Hate Hamlet by Paul Rudnick is now playing at the Good Company 2nd Space Theater through August 14.

Andrew (Chase Stubblefield), who played a doctor on television, doesn’t want to play Hamlet. His Teutonic agent (Karan Johnson) wants him to play Hamlet because of her own memories. His Hollywood director-buddy (Alex Vaux) wants him back in La-La-Land for another series. His real estate agent (Valerie Munoz) wants him to have the apartment because he’s famous…and the place belonged to Barrymore. If he plays Hamlet, maybe his ditsy girlfriend (Jessica Rose Knotts) will finally have sex with him. On top of that, the spirit of John Barrymore (CJ Dion) arrives to prepare him for the role—an uphill climb because Andrew resists every step of the way.

theatre

Good Company Player’s cast of I HATE HAMLET

Stubblefield is thin, affable, looking at the world from a skewed angle, sort of an American Craig Ferguson. He has the boyish charm that one would expect of a fresh-scrubbed TV heartthrob, I dream of Clooney with the light brown hair. He has moments of the Hamletness Andrew seeks, yet rejects.

Dion as Barrymore, the Great Profile, swaggers, exudes sexual confidence, and dominates his not-sure-he-wannabe successor. He wheedles, dares, bolsters, and belittles his assigned student. He’s a bit overdressed, but he is focused in his mentoring scenes as Stubblefield riffs on Andrew’s inadequacies and lack of understanding.theatre

Knotts is tall, willowy, and ethereal. Her character is besotted with the idea of theatre as really being important, a prime candidate for Barrymore’s sorcery. Vaux is California-crass in a Quentin Tarentino way. Munoz is very New York, obsessed with the famous and Hollywood.

Johnson, who has been part of Good Company since its beginning, seems little more than the typical object of scorn for agents with a German accent…at first. As the show progresses, she provides the truest romance and emotion in the whole plot, with a depth and joy that can’t be matched.theatre

David Pierce’s solid set is sumptuous, a Medieval manor with whispers of a bondage salon, detailed down to the painted fireplace that looks like it’s semi-precious stone, worth thousands of dollars. The first, wraithlike appearance of Barrymore’s ghost is a mesmerizing mix of lighting, projections, and smoke; I offer a thank-you to whoever made it happen.

I Hate Hamlet is fun, frivolous, and a good excuse to get out of the Valley heat. You don’t have to “brush up on your Shakespeare” by reading or watching the original Hamlet to get the jokes, but it wouldn’t hurt.

The 2nd Space Theatre is at 928 E. Olive Avenue in Fresno. Be aware that the parking lot at the southwest corner of Van Ness and Olive is no longer available, and look for alternative spaces. For tickets, call 559-266-0660 or 800-371-4747. More info can be found on the GCP website and their KRL event page.

Check out more theatre reviews & other local entertainment articles in our Arts & Entertainment section.

Terrance V. Mc Arthur is a Community Librarian for the WoW! (WithOut Walls) Division of the Fresno County Public Library, roaming the Valley to meet the public’s information needs.

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