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Don’t ‘Hate Hamlet’ — see this play instead

‘I Hate Hamlet’

♦ Sept. 7-22

♦ Albright Theatre, 100 N. Island Ave., Batavia

♦ (630) 406-8838

Updated: September 6, 2012 11:20AM

If you think Shakespeare’s work is overdone, if you think he’s a pompous windbag, if you would rather watch almost anything other than one of the Bard’s plays, then the Albright Theatre has a show for you.

They are presenting “I Hate Hamlet” by Paul Rudnick. Performances are at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and at 2 p.m. Sundays Sept. 7 to 22 at the Albright Theatre in Batavia. It is directed by Jennifer Ring.

“‘I Hate Hamlet’ is a comedy about a young man named Andrew Rally. He used to be a TV actor and he lost his job, so he moves to New York so he can start over again,” she said.

Andrew Rally lands the role of Hamlet in a Central Park production. He also buys an apartment.

“He discovers his new apartment was once owned by John Barrymore, the esteemed actor. There’s a séance where they call upon the ghost of Barrymore to help Andy through his part of Hamlet,” she said. “Barrymore shows up and kind of wreaks a little bit of havoc in Andy’s life. He tries to help him through this very big part of Hamlet, which Andy really doesn’t want to do because he really doesn’t like Hamlet.”

Through the course of the show, Andy begins to appreciate “Hamlet” more and more, and he and the ghost of Barrymore develop an “Odd Couple” relationship, she said.

“It’s really fun,” she said. “And there are other characters involved. He’s got an agent who is older, who had an affair with Barrymore a long time ago. And there’s a psychic who’s kind of kooky.”

A wacky group of characters complete the ensemble, Ring said.

“It sort of plays on classical themes and modern-day stuff,” she said. “It’s been fun working with the cast. They’ve really embraced these characters.”

She was excited for the chance to direct this play, she said.

“I don’t normally direct comedies. It’s always a challenge … stretching my abilities as an artist to try something I’ve never tried before,” she said.

She’s never directed the actual “Hamlet” either.

“I’ve yet to direct a Shakespeare show,” she said. “So this is a baby step towards getting there. We actually deal with that kind of text.”

She does recommend this play for folks who aren’t so hot on the actual Shakespeare.

“This show is for all those who don’t really love ‘Hamlet,’ that don’t really embrace Shakespeare, for whom Shakespeare is a little bit scary and they aren’t sure what they want to do with it,” she said. “If you know nothing about Shakespeare and nothing about ‘Hamlet,’ this show still works and is still funny and is still interesting, if you look at it as a show about a guy who got a role he doesn’t really want to do and another guy comes and helps him perform it. It works on all those levels. You don’t have to have a big background. It’s for all.”

Expect a feel-good performance with a lot of laughs, she said.

“You don’t have to think too hard, unless you really want to,” she said. “It’s a good summertime show. It’s a nice, refreshing, light (show) to end the summer with before it gets too dark and gray and rainy all the time.”

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