Friday, May 21, 2010

I Am Hamlet

(Meant to stand in for a review of I Am Hamlet, presented on stage at the Subversive Theatre Collective, as Adapted and Directed by Joe Siracusa and performed by Brian Morey)

We all are, Hamlet, seeking that point of intention which dictates the act. Tricking it out. Glancing at audience to see its reaction, play within, some truth to quiet raging unknowns. The act so well rehearsed by the time it's committed; to memory, to reality, that the intention has long since receded beneath what are nearly autonomous motions and their representation emotionally. The play's the thing. The actor is beside himself, drawn along by certain knowledge of what comes next, that thing we lack, our dreams projected.

If there is a flaw to this production of Shakespeare; this spin, perhaps, off Shakespeare, but really, who can know his intentions - but if there is  a flaw, it is that the actor, even more than the words, exceeds his audience. The energy required to pay attention, to follow the words, is exceeded by the energy required even to believe that this is a one man show. That there aren't at least several persons beneath the rapid fire costume transformations, just for instance. I stared mightily trying to decide if Brian Morey was lip syncing to some professionally pre-recorded soundtrack.

He might have been. This is not just Shakespeare brought up to date, it is Shakespeare transcending date and time and place. This actor is a rock star, a female rock star, a male rock star, Avatar floating above the stage (the fog machine failed I later found out, as did the microphone for proof that there was no trick and still intention prevailed, which is beyond metaphorical requirements for acted out reality, please!) and the play within the play is film is television, is playing in my own head, the sole member, yet again, of an audience adverted, apparently, by the Buffalo News to stay away, on pain of what? Some realization of your mortality? I am growing, well, weary of presentations meant for crowds and then finding myself alone.

During intermission I was as rube from county (my actual role in life) among the theater hags, so called by themselves, who were the only other witnesses to this remarkable show this summery night. They were recalling costume and lighting and sound and stage malfunctions in their own storied pasts. I was focussed on my own mortality, staged malfunction recently so many times in Emergency Departments, in dealing with aging parents and romantically spurned children whose future cannot be rehearsed, whose future remains mystery, all futures weighing now like pendulous question marks, anon.

These skulls on stage were not the prompt to my own pounding heart, which seems to have a mind of its own these days, acting out, stealing from me my own mind's ability to pay attention, and so the words, enunciated almost beyond perfection as if there were some better way to recite Hamlet, and it turns out that there actually is, the words had to wash over me, and I had to let them, they were that far beyond my grasp.

How many times have I seen Hamlet, have I read it? Not even once, it would seem, or am I rescued by failing memory, failing to internalize the plot, the point, the theme, it's all new to me every time as Dad said last Thanksgiving when around the table we were sharing "the new" and he can't remember the conversation less than a minute previous. But I guess he still has a sense of humor.

This then is my life, and I am truly Hamlet, and if I must endure one more turn as audience to myself there it will end. There will be an end to it. I will have become the narrative, without sense or sensibility. Acted out by others, even though they might call me by some name I once did inhabit. Poor Rick, I am Hamlet. You would be too if you were to dare genuine theater. I dare you, voice echoing in an ever empty skull.

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