Hamlet in da House (Oakham, that is)

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By Jill Koskitalo

There is only one thing better than watching a show with lots of sex and violence on TV.

Watching one live.

The Oakham House Theatre Society has recognized the basic mass market appeal of sex and violence and in effort to cash in, is presenting the comedy I Hate Hamlet.

The story revolves around Andrew Rally (played with aplomb by Trevor Birrell), a TV actor who agrees to star in a production of Hamlet.

His lack of confidence in his ability to play the Dane prompts a visit from the ghost of John Barrymore (Matthew Christie). Barrymore, who also happens to be the grandfather of Drew Barrymore, was a well known actor at the beginning of the 20th century.

Apparently, since Hamlet is such a difficult role, each new actor embarking on a production of Hamlet must receive personal attention from an earlier player.

Much of the humour stems from formula situations, such as poor Rally not getting any, of the usual tricks a ghost can pull on those who can’t see them. Yet I Hate Hamlet remains remarkably fresh and is hysterically funny. Written by Paul Rudnick, I Hate Hamlet is a very intelligent comedy.

Rally’s apartment and his circle of friends who constantly invade it is vaguely reminiscent of Sienfeld.

And like the TV show, it is the supporting characters who often provide the most laughs. Chantal Guertin as Rally’s starry-eyed Alice in Wonderland wannabe girlfriend Diedre and Brian Edwards as the manic writer-producer-director friend Gary each give solid performances that light up the very few slow spots in Rudnick’s dialogue.

The various musical works used within the production complement the mood of the play nicely.

Director Annie Adams has resisted the temptation to see I Hate Hamlet as a farce and has spent a great deal of effort assuring authenticity in both acting and scenery.

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