"Hamlet" gets cut up and reassembled so that the Claudius is the hero of Denmark and Hamlet is a dangerous head case in "Helsinor."
By JOSHUA TANZER
"Helsinor" is an adaptation of "Hamlet" with evil
Uncle Claudius as the hero. Although set in Shakespeare's Denmark, the
language and characterizations are distinctly modern. Gertrude, admitting to
a surprised Claudius that she knew he killed her husband, says: "I didn't just
fall off a turnip truck." Ophelia's facial and vocal expressions are those
of a truculent high school student. Written by Todd Alcott best known
as the screenwriter of "Antz" in the style of terse movie
dialogue, the script makes no attempt at poetry, and perhaps that is the
The play opens with an address from Claudius bemoaning the state of his
brother's kingdom and moves into a cabinet meeting with a very aged king who,
instead of solving his nation's problems, regales his cabinet with bad jokes.
Played well by James Urbaniak, Alcott's piggish king (Hamlet's father) is at first intriguing
but quickly disintegrates into an absurd parody as the king begins chatting
with a green sock puppet named "Froggy" whom he manipulates from under his
robe. Claudius and Gertrude are shown to be having an affair before the king's
death; Gertrude seeking comfort from the unspeakable acts "Froggy" has
committed in the bedroom, sensitive Claudius promising to nurture her love of
|Written and directed by: Todd Alcott.|
Cast: James Urbaniak, Adrian Latourelle, Sheri Graubert, Chuck Montgomery, Steven Rattazzi, Sean Runnette.
|Present Company Theatorium|
198 Stanton Street
Sept. 5-29, 2001
Alcott, who also adapted "Merchant of Venice," shortens the script to an hour
and a half by cutting such characters as Rosencrantz, Guildenstern and
Laertes. Horatio, the great symbol of true friendship in literature, here
becomes false as he takes over the actions of the perfidious Rosencrantz and
Guildenstern. Almost everyone still ends up dead, but Ophelia, clearly a
budding feminist influenced by Lorena Bobbitt, doesn't perish in the
traditional delicate suicide. She takes on Laertes' role in seeking
vengeance for their dead father.
James Urbaniak plays Hamlet as a brooding serial killer intent on winning
back his father's throne. For all his bitching, Claudius, played by Chuck
Montgomery, is unable to rejuvenate the kingdom and his incessant attempts at
moral justification are even more insipid in this version than in the
original. A beautifully staged moment is Claudius' capture by a
magnificently tall and perfectly costumed Fortinbras, played by Sean Runette.
Not unlike a staged adaptation of the Hamlet Cliff notes, this production is
successful as a clever rethinking of the psychology of this famous royal
family but less interesting when it becomes the typical, goofy parody.
|SEPTEMBER 11, 2001|
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