Review: Four Clowns Reinvents Hamlet in their Latest Shakespearean Soiree

Four Clowns Presents Hamlet

L-R: Connor Kelly-Eiding, Andrew Eiden, Corey Johnson, and Charlotte Chanler. Photo by Zach Steel

It’s a little uncanny how easily Shakespeare’s tragedy lends itself to reinvention by a troupe of clowns and still communicates the full measure of the poet’s intent, yet that is exactly what happens in Fours Clowns Presents Hamlet, a guest production at The Shakespeare Center of Los Angeles. To director Turner Munch’s credit, not only does he understand the funny – of which there is plenty in this production – he also knows how to play it off against its polar opposite to create palpable dramatic tension. And he does it with surprising finesse.

This is Shakespeare for people who hate Shakespeare, and for those who love it, for purists and dilettantes, and anyone who wants to see a story told with humor and creativity. More than anything, the 90-minute production is simply a great night at the theatre.

It helps to have a cast who plays full out, at times heartbreakingly so. You expect it to be funny (it’s clowns for goodness sake) but when the moment spins on a dime and lands a stupefying blow to your gut or your heart, that’s when you appreciate how the play has truly become the proverbial putty in their hands.

Hamlet (an excellent Andrew Eidon) on his mother and stepfather’s leash becomes Hamlet on a lunacy bender once the red nose goes on. And just when you think he can’t push the madness any further he pivots into a scene with the fair Ophelia (sweetly played by Elizabeth Godley) that is as delicate and touching as you’d find in any serious production. How the actors realize these scenes is often so beautiful and revelatory that I don’t want to lessen the delight you’ll experience in the moment by going into detail here. Suffice it to say that by extracting the essence of a scene and physicalizing it they are able to use a minimal amount of Shakespeare’s text to tell the story. “Brevity is the soul of wit” is a mantra that this company knows well.

Dave Honigman and Tyler Bremer are the skillful clowns who redefine the phrase “dopey puppy” as Hamlet’s deceptive friends, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, and Connor Kelly-Eiding brings an endearing innocence to her role as the huggy Horatio. Each actor is well-matched to his or her character yet it is Joe DeSoto’s wild-eyed, expressive Ghost you’re most likely to remember. Play along. Have fun. This kind of Shakespeare never gets old.

Just as delightful is the way the technical and design elements are integrated into the storytelling and used as building blocks for the action: Elena Flores (costumes, hair & make-up), Alexandra Giron (set and props), Mcleod Benson (lighting), Matt MacCready (technical design), an uncredited but terrific sound design, and Matt Franta’s fight choreography all have exceptional moments.

Ellen Dostal
Shakespeare in LA

Sept 18 – Oct 10, 2015
Shakespeare Center of Los Angeles
1238 West 1st St, Los Angeles, CA 90026
Tickets: (562) 508-1788 or
Show runs under 90 minutes with no intermission

Hamlet is Going to the Clowns – Four Clowns, that is

Four Clowns presents Hamlet
Four Clowns teams up with the Shakespeare Center of Los Angeles for an all new take on one of Shakespeare’s most popular works – Hamlet. Four Clowns presents Hamlet will run for eight performances only, Fridays and Saturdays Sept 18 – Oct 10, all shows at 8pm.

Join the award-winning company as they go on a raucous journey to explore the depths of madness. With Hamlet at the helm – the biggest joker of all time – this highly physical production slips and slides through the pages of Shakespeare, as the clowns hash out the meaning of rosemary and rue. But at the end of the day even clowns can’t take the sting out of mass murder. This is Shakespeare as you’ve never seen before. Alas Poor, Yorick. You thought you knew him well.

Previously Four Clowns has presented two other unique interpretations of Shakespeare classics: an award-winning version of Romeo & Juliet in 2011, and in partnership with CSULB, a devised version of Ubu Roi called Ubu The Sh*t, a French play based on Shakespeare’s Macbeth.

For the tale of Hamlet, a cast of nine – including several new members of the company – is directed by long-time company member and director Turner Munch. Munch says, “This is not a bunch of clowns trying to ‘perform’ the play of Hamlet. Our clowns assume these roles and are making these choices.”

The show stars Drew Eiden as Hamlet, with Tyler Bremer (Guildenstern), Charlotte Chanler (Gertrude), Joe DeSoto (Laertes/Ghost) , Scotty Farris (Polonius), Elizabeth Godley (Ophelia), Dave Honigman (Rosencrantz), Corey Johnson (Claudius), and Connor Kelly-Eiding (Horatio).

The creative team includes Matthew MacCready (technical director), McLeod Benson (lighting designer), Alexandra Giron (set & props designer), Elena Flores (costume, hair, & make-up designer), Matt Franta (fight choreographer), Julianna Stephanie Ojeda (production manager), Zach Steel (graphic designer), Ashley Jo Navarro (stage manager), Jeremy Aluma (artistic director/producer) and producers David Anthony Anis and Sara Waugh.

Sept 18 – Oct 10, 2015
Shakespeare Center of Los Angeles
1238 West 1st St, Los Angeles, CA 90026
Tickets: (562) 508-1788 or
Show runs under 90 minutes with no intermission.

THE HAMLET PROJECT Returns To Los Angeles

The Hamlet Project

After a two-year absence, Loose Canon Collective’s The Hamlet Project is returning to Los Angeles for an extended run at the legendary Park Plaza Hotel. Since the debut of The Hamlet Project in 2011, the show has been mounted fourteen different times in three different cities and has received a great deal of attention. All shows begin promptly at 8:00 pm but you can come any time after 7:00 pm to enjoy some pre-show entertainment.

Also, between now and opening weekend The Hamlet Project is offering a special $10 pre-sale offer. Buy your tickets now for the discount. Remaining tickets will be $15 cash at the door. (Shows are anticipated to sell out.)

What is The Hamlet Project? Check out the trailer below!

February 19, 20, 26, 27 & March 5, 2015
Park Plaza Hotel
607 S Park View Street
Los Angeles, CA 90057
Click Here for tickets
For more information go to

Want to be Part of The Global Hamlet?

Global Hamlet

The Global Hamlet Project will officially launch in April 2015 and you’ll be reading about it here on Shakespeare in LA in the coming months. What is The Global Hamlet? Born from the concept of collective intelligence, The Global Hamlet (defined “groundbreaking” by Shakespearean actor Ben Crystal and “wonderful” by Michael Dobson, director of the Shakespeare Institute at Stratford-upon-Avon) will be the first people’s edition of a literary work ever made; it will be the whole world translating, annotating and illustrating Shakespeare’s Hamlet in many languages through the internet.

Project participants will be invited to help annotate Shakespeare’s Hamlet not only with text, but also with traditional images and videos of the play, and to illustrate its scenes through drawings and clips. Everyone can participate, under the supervision of expert Shakespearean editors, with the intent to create from the ground up the highest quality edition of Hamlet written by the people.

There will be many ways to become part of the project. The first is for participants to submit a recording of themselves saying “I am Hamlet.” Easy, right? Men, women, young and old, are all invited to participate in this video. More

Interview: 17-Year-Old Madeleine Russell Contemplates To Be or Not To Be

Westridge Hamlet

Madeleine Russell in Hamlet. Rehearsal photos by Cris Capp

Proving that Shakespeare is for all ages and all people, Westridge School in Pasadena is getting ready to open an all-female 1990’s grunge-inspired production of Hamlet, starring Madeleine Russell in the title role. Anyone who has ever worked on the play, and particularly on that role, will tell you that it is a huge undertaking and one that presents many opportunities for growth, both as an actor and as a person. Since I’m always interested in the process, I asked Russell, who is a 17-year old senior at Westridge, what it was like for her to step into the shoes of one of Shakespeare’s most tortured characters. I think you’ll be impressed at what she has to say about her experience.

How do you get inside a character like this as a young woman in the role, rather than a young man?

Because my school is single-sex, I have had the chance to play men before. I find that my approach is fairly similar for any character, male or female. I read for emotions, motivators, character shifts. I analyze their journey, always taking into consideration their present circumstances. With Hamlet, I have easier access to his feelings and thoughts. He never hides from the audience, which I find to be one of the reasons he is so compelling.  More

Come See Jeff McLane in Wit of Will at the SCTE Conference

Wit of Will

Teachers: Are you looking for an educational show that makes Shakespeare accessible to your students? Wit of Will has announced that it will be previewing its latest show – a thrilling, spilling and laugh riot version of Hamlet – to teachers and educators in the Los Angeles area at the 2014 Southland Council of Teachers of English fall conference. Wit of Will is an educational one-man touring production that is a terrific resource for educators and departments looking to introduce their students to the world of William Shakespeare. The main show runs approximately 20 minutes, and presents Shakespeare in a hilarious, fun, and enjoyable way, making it accessible to everyone, even grade school students.  More

Around the Block (with Hamlet) Opens at Arena Cinema in Hollywood

Sarah Spillane’s Around the Block is the story of American Dino Chalmers (Christina Ricci) – an edgy and charismatic drama teacher with a passion for Shakespeare. When the opportunity arises for her to work at a school in inner Sydney, she embraces the chance to introduce the magical world of theatre as an alternative to life on the tough streets of Redfern, Sydney, Australia. The story centers on the developing relationship between Chalmers and Liam, a sixteen-year-old urban Aboriginal boy who lives ‘around the block’ in Redfern. As well as presenting Liam with an alternative to life on the tough streets of Redfern, Chalmers’ American idealism becomes a counterpoint for racial tensions between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. The film provides an intimate insight into Redfern, a third world ghetto town that exists in the middle of an otherwise illustrious city, provoking an emotional and engaging journey towards a hope and the future.

Around the Block opens theatrically in Los Angeles August 1st at the Arena Cinema in Hollywood and stars Christina Ricci and Hunter Page-Lochard in an acclaimed debut performance, with Jack Thompson, Damian Walshe-Howling and Ruby Rose.

Opens August 1, 2014 for a one week run
Arena Cinema Hollywood
1625 N. Las Palmas Avenue
Hollywood, CA 90028
Check theatre listings for showtimes


Shakespeare by the Sea Offers Free Performances of Hamlet and Midsummer

Shakes by the Sea Bottom & Fairies SBTS MND14

Bottom (Patrick Vest) and his Fairies

Shakespeare by the Sea continues its 2014 summer of Shakespeare with performances of Hamlet, directed by Stephanie Coltrin, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, directed by Patrick Vest, in various locations around the city, now through August 16. Shows are always free and seating is on a first-come-first-served basis. For a complete list of dates, locations, and details about each of the performance venues, visit

Shakes by the Sea Hamlet SBTS HPD 2014

Cylan Brown as Hamlet

Fringe Review: Jacob Sidney’s HAMLET MAX

The title of Jacob Sidney’s futuristic Hamlet refers to the Dane’s dead father Maximus, a character who never appears live on stage but only materializes as part of Hillary Bauman’s black & white anime projections on a screen behind the actors. The audience sees the ghost fade in and out behind them while a mirthless Hamlet peers out over the audience and responds to his father somewhere out in the empty wasteland beyond us.

It is a stylistic element that characterizes Sidney’s Hamlet in a production that is a steely mix of live action and introspective contemplation. As an exercise, it is immensely thought-provoking, but because each of the actors is already working within his or her own individual style, it keeps the sum of its parts fragmented.  More

Speakeasy Theater Company Presents HAMLET

Hamlet Speakeasy Theatre

Speakeasy Theater Company invites you to its latest production of Hamlet, which will be presented at a beautiful private residence in the Hollywood Hills. It follows previous productions of Shakespeare classics like A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Macbeth in a season that also includes Much Ado About Nothing and Twelfth Night later this year.

The show is directed by Brad Ashten, who will also play Hamlet, and features Melissa Rojas (Horatio), Brien Perry (Claudius), Kat Waters (Gertrude), Richard Johnson (Polonius), Jenn Swirtz (Ophelia), Alex Bennett (Laertes), Caitlin Carleton (Rosencrantz), Nathaniel Meek (Guildenstern), Rebekah Hughes (Marcellus), Joshua Davis (Bernardo), Doug Mitchell (Francisco), Ben Rathbun (Ghost/Gravedigger 1), Marisa Van Den Borre (Gravedigger 2/Player Queen), Joshua Davis (Player King), Doug Mitchell (Lucianus), and Chelsea Newman (Osric/Chorus).

Tickets are $15 and reservations must be made in advance by emailing Performance dates are June 18, 19, 20, 21, 28 and 29 and all shows begin at 8:00 pm. Exact location will be provided when you make your reservation. Click Here for more information.

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