REVIEW WRITTEN BY MAGGIE ANN WURST
For Digital First Media
When one thinks of a ghost story, the word “comedy” doesn’t usually come to mind. However, that is the phrase that fits best when discussing Montgomery Theater’s current show, “I Hate Hamlet.”
The Paul Rudnick play begins with television actor Andrew Rally (Jon Mulhearn) moving into an apartment in New York City. Stuck in a rut after his most recent television series was cancelled, he is offered the lead role in an outdoor theater’s adaptation of “Hamlet.” However, there is one problem: Rally absolutely hates “Hamlet.”
Things become more complicated when Rally realizes that he is living in the apartment once owned by deceased actor John Barrymore, who is known by many as having the greatest interpretation of Hamlet of his time. Summoned by Rally’s real-estate broker Felicia Dantine (Jessica Bedford), Barrymore’s ghost (Leonard C. Haas) materializes to convince Rally to keep the role and develop as a stage actor. Of course, there is a catch with this as well, for if Barrymore fails to convince Rally to perform as Hamlet, he will be stuck in purgatory in the apartment.
The show draws the audience in with witty banter between Mulhearn’s Rally and Haas’s Barrymore on topics of acting, women and money. From the moment Haas steps onto the stage wearing his Hamlet-inspired attire (including tights), you know that you are in for plenty of laughs, which I quickly lost count of as the show progressed.
Adding to the humorous atmosphere was Abigail Grace Allwein’s portrayal of Deirdre McDavey, Rally’s passionate and virginal girlfriend who hopes to see Rally transform into a poetic hero, and will not consummate their relationship until she has.
As Rally struggles to cope with his unquenched desires, Barrymore steps in to teach him the art of seduction, which leads to some of the greatest comedic moments of the show.
Of course, no show would be complete without an air of inspiration, and in that area, “I Hate Hamlet” does not disappoint.
As Rally tries to decide between returning to television for millions of dollars or staying in New York to pursue a career under the lights, the idea of choosing fortune over true artistic expression is explored.
Making the choice more difficult for Rally is his L.A. friend and television mogul Gary Peter Lefkowitz (Aaron Kirkpatrick), who tries to convince Rally that he isn’t talented enough to act on the stage, but rather belongs in a television series with a plot that makes Barrymore’s eyes roll.
Standing up for artistic expression is Rally’s agent Lillian Troy (Cynthia Raff) who also serves as an inspiration for both Rally and Barrymore to see the true value of Shakespearean drama.
Any kind of creative will find a relatable element to Rally’s dilemma. Finding himself torn between the role he grows fonder of by the minute and the comfort of money and glamour, Mulhearn’s character debates the merits of both in front of an audience of sympathizers.
To find out which path he chooses and to witness the zingy banter between Mulhearn and Haas as Rally and Barrymore, get your tickets for Montgomery Theater’s “I Hate Hamlet” today.
IF YOU GO
What: “I Hate Hamlet”
When: Now through July 12.
Where: Montgomery Theater, 124 Main St., Souderton.
Info.: For tickets check www.montgomerytheater.org or call (215) 723-9984.