When Hamlet in Bed, a newest work currently being performed at the Rattlestick Playwrights Theatre, got a great write up in Time Out New York, I decided, what the hell, and I went to see it. Time Out is pretty much where I go for all of my off-Broadway recs (besides friends). I thought it would be a reinterpretation of Hamlet but I was completely off base. 

Hamlet in Bed was about a mother and son who didn’t know it. Michael Laurence, the star and playwright, played Michael, an actor and orphan, who has an obsession with Hamlet (the play) and is sold the journal of a woman, Ana (played by Annette O’Toole), who Ophelia in 1975. The journal ends with an entry saying that her son was born on the day that happens to be his birthday and she gave him up for adoption.

He finds her and casts her as Gertrude, Hamlet’s mother, in his adaptation of Hamlet called Hamlet in Bed. The play is dark and twisted, and a bit confusing. Ana has a hallucination (of sorts) once Michael tells her who he is after three weeks of deceiving her.

Hamlet in Bed is a quick 90 minutes and it’s interesting and eerie, especially if you know Hamlet. If you like off the beaten path theatre, head downtown and check it out.

“To be, or not to be [entertained]. That is the question.”

Every season when producers announce a new production featuring a Hollywood hunk or starlet (or multiple), the New York theatre crowds [and critics’] ears perk up as they fasten their criticism caps on and begin to conjure whether or not said-actor[s] can actually act.  When it was announced that Jude Law would be starring in Hamlet in New York, the reaction was no different.

Like it says to your left, I adore Shakespeare.  In my opinion, he’s a genius.  I studied his work in London in 2007 and have tried to take advantage of every chance to see a professional production of his work in New York since.  I read Hamlet [on my own] during my senior year of college, and liked it, though I thought it was quite long.  I thought, hey, since I liked reading it, I will definitely like seeing it.

When it was announced that the recent London production of Hamlet would be brought to New York for a short 4-month stint (bringing along with them Jude Law), I bought tickets at the AMEX pre-sale for my friend John and I for the last Sunday in September (also known as Flea Market Sunday!).  Summer came and went, and before we knew it the last Sunday in September had arrived.  John and I eagerly looked forward to a jam packed day, including a three-hour appearance from Jude Law.

The Broadhurst Theatre is not a large theatre – something John and I had forgotten – so we were pleasantly surprised when we saw that our “nose bleed” seats were actually more akin to sitting in the front mezzanine at The Palace Theatre (though we moved down to 5th row of the orchestra for the second act).

Remember when I said I would surely love the play?  Well, I forgot to breath for a moment when [Jude] Law first appeared  in the very first few moments after the theatre darkened… but that was pretty much the end of my excitement until the final scene.  Each act was one and a half hours long, and I’m sorry, Will, but Hamlet is not my favorite work of yours.

But let’s get one thing straight: Jude Law is a fantastic stage actor.  He definitely has talent both onstage and onscreen.

The set (by Christopher Oram) and lighting (by Neil Austin) are definitely deserving of special mention.  The lighting was similar to that of last years’ production of Macbeth, and the set was minimal, as always for Shakespeare, but had an edgy feel to it, which I loved.  One dishonorable mention was the actress portraying Gertrude, who was lackluster in every way.

So, I didn’t love Hamlet the way I thought I would, but it’s still a top-notch production regardless.

(Picture courtesy of Playbill.com)