I do love my Shakespeare: in the park, in amateur theatre, serious, brooding, bawdy, and, since I’m no purist, I also love the imaginative liberties certain Shakespearean productions take, particularly in the form of parody, spoof and mockery. Hamlet and Juliet is one such play.
“This is not real theatre,” the boys from Sound and Fury warned us, beginning before the show actually began, welcoming their audience, making jokes at their expense, creating an atmosphere of belonging. One warned us that the show was only going to be as fun as we made it. I get what they mean, but pshaw; these guys made it fun.
So Hamlet is down. His father has just died and his mother is marrying his uncle and Ophelia – Ophelia? No, this Hamlet isn’t interested in her because, come now, she is rather boring, and anyway, he’s just met Juliet. Juliet! The 13-year-old lush at the balcony! These two are going to have quite a bad romance, so be prepared for death.
Each of the three players takes on a handful of major and minor characters in Hamlet and Juliet, keeping it real with a few quotable lines and then getting downright silly with improv.
There are plenty of pop-cultural references, some jokes that are not really made in good-taste, and not-such good, clean comedy (Friar Lawrence is, after all, a complete pervert). But as lewd as this play is, the two young teenagers in the crowd were not only laughing at the jokes, they had become a part of the jokes, so inclusivity seems to be the most important aspect of the performance, making Hamlet and Juliet a great way to spend an hour.
Forget the nunnery; get thee to Bally tent in Gluttony, where Hamlet and Juliet plays nightly – except for Mondays – until March 1.
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