Will the Real Hamlet Please Stand Up? 

CAN-ACT offers double dose of the Bard

If you're hard up for a little taste of the Bard, and can't wait for summer's annual dose from Idaho Shakespeare Festival, Nampa's CAN-ACT may have what you crave.

Of course, Paul Rudnick's I Hate Hamlet isn't exactly Shakespeare, though it certainly throws out enough references to the real thing to whet your appetite. The show actually follows the life of a successful young television actor named Andrew Rally (Jake Winslow), who moves from L.A. to New York and is offered the part of Hamlet in the city's upcoming Shakespeare in the Park.

It should be an amazing opportunity, at least according to Andrew's bubbly girlfriend, Diedre (Jenny Newbry), his excitable realtor/psychic Felicia (Ruth Beaman) and his no-nonsense agent Lillian (Muriel Moore).

The problem, of course, is that Andrew doesn't really like Hamlet. He's more interested in landing another big TV series and continuing his climb up the international fame ladder--aspirations giddily encouraged by his greedy producer friend Gary (Brian Bates).

On a lark, Felicia conducts a séance to try and summon the ghost of actor John Barrymore, who once played Hamlet, with the idea that Barrymore could give Andrew pointers about playing the part. The séance apparently fails, but Andrew discovers later that boisterous Mr. Barrymore (Tim Pakuthka) has indeed arrived--Hamlet garb and all--and he needs a drink!

The remainder of the show focuses primarily on the relationship that develops between Barrymore and Andrew and the dilemma that is the real crux of the play--choosing between art and fame, a decision Barrymore believes he made poorly and doesn't want Andrew to repeat.

Director Ron Torres, a recent Albertson College of Idaho grad and coordinator of the year-old Canyon Community Theater in Caldwell, paces the show nicely and makes a smooth set transition into The Fifteen Minute Hamlet--a Tom Stoppard comedy that bridges the two acts of I Hate Hamlet surprisingly well.

Winslow fittingly takes on the role of Hamlet in this fast-paced farce that condenses the very long story of Hamlet into ... well, about 15 minutes. The play bears similarities to The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged), a long-running London comedy that's been staged numerous times by Idaho Shakespeare Festival.

Winslow is joined onstage by Torres, Jake Kinney, Ginnie Sorenson, Stephanie Lawrence and Zach Baney, all part of a theater troupe who run through Hamlet at breakneck speed--twice. Watch for some humorous improv here, planned and unplanned. Kinney actually took a believable tumble during the recent dress rehearsal show I watched, but assured me later the stunt was not intentional.

The set is truly breathtaking--a multi-level, stone-painted apartment adorned with red curtains, a Hobbit-like front door and, of course, a wall picture of Shakespeare himself.

I Hate Hamlet by Paul Rudnick and The Fifteen Minute Hamlet by Tom Stoppard, directed by Ron Torres

May 20, 21, 22, 27, 28, 29

CAN-ACT Theater, upper level Karcher Mall, Nampa

More info/tickets: 442-0676 or www.can-act.org

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