Playwright: Roy Ballard
Company: Funky LittleTheater Company
Venue: Funky Little Theater, 2109 Templeton Gap, Colorado Springs, CO.
Running Time: 1 hour (no intermission).
Date of Performance: Saturday, April 9, 2016.
I know. MacHamlet sounds like a new breakfast item at McDonald’s, perhaps a hybrid of a Big Mac and an omelet. But no. It’s the title for an “improbable. bromance” between Shakespeare’s two most tragic characters: Macbeth and Hamlet. Still, I can't get the idea of an omelet/Big Mac mashup out of my head. I'd definitely try it.
MacHamlet is definitely not the first time Shakespeare's work has been used as fodder for satire and parody, nor will it be the last. Shakespeare brings a couple of advantages to writers who seeking satire sources: 1) many are familiar with the original works, and 2) all manner of copyrights have long expired for the bard. If you add in the ease of satirizing a guy who wrote in antiquated verse, the parodies almost write themselves.
If two such parodies can be a trend, the front range has somehow become an incubator for Shakespeare send ups. MacHamlet is the second original revision of Shakespeare’s works I’ve seen, the first being Ham Mcbeth. Add in a recent version of The Compleat Works of Wllm Shkspr and a dynamite local production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and it would seem the bard is more popular now than he was when he died 400 years ago.
Funky’s current send up of Will’s most famous tragedies is done strictly for fun. That’s important; no one should buy a ticket expecting to see a show that significantly resembles the original material. The better expectation here is that some humor can be wrung from Shakespeare’s best tragedies. If that sounds like a reach, it is, but it’s a reach that at times works at Funky.
Roy Ballard’s script borrows from both of Shakespeare’s tragedies, and he adds his own material to turn tragedy to comedy. Ballard is a veteran of the Funky stage, and his last appearance there was a dark triumph. Kevin Taylor also gets credit for his contribution to MacHamlet: a decidedly irreverent rap scene with Hamlet (Chris Medina) and Macbeth (Dylan McClintock), which is arguably the funniest part of MacHamlet. Costume designer Delaney Hallauer brings some visual fun to the show, dressing her male characters in skin tight “I have no secrets” leggings.
Summarizing the script seems unnecessary; if you know something about Hamlet and Macbeth, you know enough already. No deep understanding or appreciation of the original scripts is needed. Ballard weaves the two together, using the title characters to forge a comedic alliance. Ballard’s characters are necessarily somewhat less proper than Shakespeare’s; Ophelia (Emma Colligan) drags Hamlet behind a set piece for a quickie. Gertrude (Josh Boehnke in a blond wig and exquisite drag) is seductive, sexy, and has a thing for Macbeth.
MacHamlet is not for Shakespeare purists. If you think the original work is untouchable, this is not for you. For the rest of us, there is value in both the original scripts and in updating them. The audience at Funky was responsive and enthusiastic, two words I rarely use for Shakespeare productions.
Exposing a new generation to Shakespeare is a worthwhile endeavor, even if that exposure is a rap music driven romp that bears only a slender relationship to the original. Funky proves that Shakespeare, enhanced and on steroids, can be fun and relevant. That’s enough to make MacHamlet a potential gateway for a new generation to read and appreciate the original classics.
Shakespeare might be rolling in his grave, but Funky and Roy Ballard won’t let him be forgotten.
This show is suitable for teens and up. There is ample free parking in the Funky Little Theater strip mall.
Humble Coffee has a kiosk in the parking lot; depending on the date/time of the show, you may be able to pick up an excellent latté before the curtain goes up. Funky also has a concession stand. At the performance we attended, they were offering a free homemade dessert.
This show closes on April 16, 2016.
Photo Credit: Funky Little Theater Company & Megan Williams, Photographer
Director: Benji Dezaval
Scenic Design: Dylan McClintock
Sound/Light Design: Chris Medina
Costume Design: Delaney Hallauer
Dramaturg: Laura Marden
Properties: Michelle Pantle/Justin Anderson
Stage Manager: Chelsea Rigor
Rap music/lyrics: Kevin Taylor
Horatio/Laertes/Gertrude: Josh Boehnke
Ophelia/Lady Macbeth/Francisco: Emma Colligan
Macbeth/Bernardo: Dylan McClintock
Hamlet: Chris Medina
Claudius/Duncan/Ghost Dad: Chad Orr
Marcellus/Witches/Messenger: Valiant Pico
Marcellus/Witches/Messenger: Valiant Pico