By Jordan Pulliam
Directed by Kathryn Rae Furrow
Review by Crag Nolan Highley
Entire contents are copyright © 2014, Craig Nolan Highley. All rights reserved.
If you ever wondered what it would be like if the characters from the Batman comics played all the roles in Hamlet (and I’m sure we’ve ALL wondered THAT), then The Alley Theater has just what you need! Their current production, Bat-Hamlet, the opening show in their Superhuman: A Festival of Superhero Theater, is an amusing mash-up of genres that takes a funny premise a bit too far.
It starts off promisingly enough, on a set that looks like an interior room of a castle, and with a funny scene involving actors Denny Grinar and Rick O’Daniel-Munger as a guard and a ghost, respectively. It continues on for well over two hours in a scene-for-scene retelling of Hamlet as if it were an episode of the Adam West version of Batman. Hamlet is Batman (Bat-Hamlet), Horatio is Robin (Songbird Boy), The Joker is Claudius (The Jester), The Penguin is Polonius (The Puffin), and so on.
The show has its moments, but really the premise doesn’t sustain a full-length play. It would have worked much better as one of the festival’s shorts in a much shorter running time. As the bard states in the original Hamlet, “Brevity is the soul of wit.” The Alley should heed those words.
Not that it’s a bad production by any means. With the exception of a couple of very good actors in badly miscast roles, the performers do a great job and never take themselves too seriously. Sean Childress especially shines in his lunatic performance as the Jester, and his makeup and costume are quite impressive.
Director Kathryn Rae Furrow does a commendable job of putting her actors through their paces and keeps things moving, but a little more attention to pace might have helped considerably.
Unfortunately I can’t say too much about the rest of the performers, or even the production staff, because no program was provided. I thought it best to only mention the actors I recognized, and I couldn’t even tell you who wrote the play. I only know Furrow directed because she gave the curtain speech and told us so. I’m not sure why no programs were provided, but I can tell you it is very frustrating to an audience member.
Quibbles aside, Bat-Hamlet is a fun opening to the festival, and I for one am looking forward to seeing what else the Alley has in store this year.
March 28, 29, 30, April 3, 4, 5, 2014
Part of Superhuman: A Festival of New American Superhero Theatre
The Alley Theater
633 West Main Street
Louisville, KY 40202