I Hate Hamlet by Paul Rudnick
Broadway West Theatre Company
Directed by Angie Higgins
Silicon Valley Small Theatre Awards – Standout Comedy Production 2013
Contrary to the title of this play, I do not hate Hamlet. Neither does our main protagonist, Andrew Rally. Not really… he’s just horribly afraid of playing the notable title character. And why wouldn’t he be? It is, as Barrymore puts it in the play, “A role so insanely complex, so fantastic and impossible, that any attempt at it is only that- an attempt.” Playing a role in one of the most influential tragedies in English Literature with some of the most iconic quotable lines… Well, it is intimidating to say the least. Why should he risk failure and the scorn of critics when he has the option of a seven-figure salary on a television show that promises fame? But as Barrymore says, “There is fame – mere celebrity – and there is glory.” Playing Hamlet may not bring him the accolades of Hollywood, but it can bring the glory one feels as an artist able to move an audience.
How often do we steer clear of that which can challenge us and will stretch our abilities to their capacity? How many times do people run in the face of possible failure? My guess is often… People often will “play it safe” rather than take a risk, even if the risk could lead to a feeling of accomplishment. Is it better to live in fear and never know the agony of possible defeat or is it better to step out of ones comfort zone and push ones self to possible glory even if it means risking failure? Should we choose the right path or merely the easy one?
This play raises these questions and makes us laugh all the while. I truly believe the best comedies are the ones that make us think in between the laughter. Paul Rudnick’s script does just this, bringing us hilarity, as well as thoughtful moments scene after scene. The message that resonates for me within this script is this… Life, as well as art, cannot be fully realized until you are willing to take risks and step out of your safety zone. You don’t need to prove yourself to the critics, but to yourself.