|You'll love 'I Hate Hamlet' now playing in New Hope
posted by Ralph Malachowski on Nov 15, 2018 10:30am | comments
A starry cast delivers an unforgettable performance of Paul Rudnick’s play I Hate Hamlet at Bucks County Playhouse in New Hope, PA, until December 1. Marc Bruni directs this updated version of the 1991 play, and it is a fresh and exciting theatrical experience thanks to the many talented performers from stage, film, and television the Playhouse always seems to find.
The story begins with a famous, young, and handsome TV doctor who has just finished a successful run in a popular series. He has come to New York to get a fresh perspective on his career which has been so good to him in Los Angeles. We meet his agent, his realtor, his girlfriend, and a producer friend in the new apartment. They are later joined by the ghost of John Barrymore. It is Barrymore’s old apartment in New York before he left for Hollywood, and the realtor calls upon John Barrymore in a séance. Barrymore is summoned from heaven to help advise the young actor who is now at a crossroads in his career. You see, the television actor will appear in Hamlet in New York, which scares him to death. He admits to hating Hamlet, which of course is why John Barrymore, a great Hamlet of his generation, has been called to guide him through the role until opening night.
Ben Frankhauser is the earnest young man Andrew Rally searching for meaning and not just wealth in his career. Liz Holtan is Deirdre McDavey, Andrew’s girlfriend, and Elizabeth Ashley is Lillian Troy, Andrew’s agent. Yes, that Elizabeth Ashley, the legendary actress of Barefoot in the Park, Cat on a Hot tin Roof, and Agnes of God, among many more. She gives a knockout performance. The chance to see Elizabeth Ashley onstage is reason enough to see I Hate Hamlet. Janine Lamanna is Felicia Dantine, the realtor and part-time psychic. Steve Sanpietro is Gary Peter Lefkowitz, Andrew’s friend and producer. Tom Hewitt as John Barrymore’s ghost is an unalloyed joy. Hewitt was last seen at the Playhouse in 2013 in the wonderful The World Goes Round. Hewitt brings to his role stentorian diction, flair and savoir faire that only Barrymore may have had -- when he was alive, that is to say. Hewitt keeps us engaged until the very end of the play with his larger-than-life character. Amid the humor are moments of poignant discovery. For example, Barrymore, in seeking to diminish Andrew’s stage anxiety, informs him that until he himself triumphed in Hamlet, he was known as an actor in light comedy, with a distinguished family name to uphold. His brother Lionel, and, especially, sister Ethel were legends in their own time.
The apartment is a supporting character in the play, and Anna Louizos gifts us with a lovely set design. David Lander provides adept lighting and Dan Moses Schreier delivers spot-on sound. The beautiful costumes, always appropriate and character-driven, are by Alejo Vietti.
For grand entertainment, fine acting, and beautiful stage production values, all in an intimate and really beautiful theatre, go see I Hate Hamlet.
I Hate Hamlet is now playing at the Bucks County Playhouse, 70 South Main Street, New Hope, PA, until December 1. For information, call 215-862-2121 or visit www.buckscountyplayhouse.org .