Monday, February 26, 2007

I hate Hamlet

The first play for 2007 from the Hobart Repertory Society is Paul Rudnick’s 1991 comedy I Hate Hamlet. The central character is Andy, a television star whose series has just been cancelled and has landed a job playing the lead in the Shakespeare-in-Central-Park festival.

To his discomfort, not only does he find himself living in John Barrymore's apartment, but he is visited by the ghost of the great actor who informs him he is there to tutor him on how to play Hamlet!

So far so so-so. The concept is uncomfortably reminiscent of a sitcom put together by writers who've seen Blithe Spirit once too often.

But as we get into the second act, there are some interesting observations about the stage, the acting profession and life in the spotlight.

Trevor Gallagher is Andy, with James Casey delightful as Barrymorre

The supporting characters all have their good moments too -- Jennifer Gardner as the Noo Yawk realtor, Karen Kluss as the off-with-the-fairies girlfriend, Gillian Hunt as the agent, and especially Stuart Pearce as the crasser-than-crass Hollywood producer.

The evening ends with an amusing demonstration of how to give your final bow. The thunderous applause at the final curtain gave all the cast a chance to try it out for themselves.

As the summer comes to its end, the hot weather is finally becoming less common. This summer was so hot that even the cat lost interest in his food (he's started to show more appetite this week) and I had a lot of trouble sleeping.

Of course it doesn't help that the people next door have been taking a lot of family holidays, leaving their dogs to run amuck outside my window. And interruptions like early-morning deliveries or the friend who telephoned at 7:30 a.m. (who rings to discuss dinner parties at that hour?)

When Kenneth Horne passed away aged 61, he was described as 'the last of the truly great radio comics'. In a broadcasting career which spanned nearly 30 years, he had starred in three of the most popular radio series of all time. I remember listening to Beyond Our Ken in the 1950s and Round the Horne in the 1960s when I was at school though I was too young to remember the 1940s' Much Binding In The Marsh.

This month is Kenneth Horne's centenary and the BBC are featuring several special programmes about him. It's good to see that in today's digital age even the stars of radio (once the most ephemeral and easily-forgotten of the arts) can be celebrated in years to come.

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