Fringe Spotlight: A Post-Apocalyptic Hamlet Max

Hamlet Max

Jacob Sidney takes Shakespeare’s Hamlet and turns it into HAMLET MAX for the Hollywood Fringe Festival, setting the production in a post-apocalyptic dystopian future that allows for a freer style of interpretation. Projected scenery and support footage by artist Hillary Bauman will create a unique manga-inspired visual foundation for the story.

Hamlet Max manga imageWhat is manga? Basically, it is a style of Japanese comic developed in the late 19th century that Sidney says, “allows exploration of surrounding circumstances through projections, keeping the text efficient without losing touch with the world of the play: Simple B&W turrets, with clouds drifting across ‘the moist star upon whose influence Neptune’s empire stands,’ will communicate the cold and solitude of the midnight watch; We watch Ophelia drown while Gertrude describes how her garments ‘Pull’d the poor wretch from her melodious lay to muddy death;’ We see Fortinbras’ army encamped in the distance when Hamlet remarks on ‘The imminent death of twenty thousand men That for a fantasy and trick of fame, Go to their graves like bed.’” 

The 90-minute production will be staged with eight actors playing all the characters, who remain on stage the entire time. In addition to Sidney as Hamlet, the cast includes Corryn Cummins as Ophelia, Kathy Bell Denton as Gertrude, Jonathan Goldstein as Claudius, Matt Henerson as Polonius, Andy Hirsch as Horatio, Kellie Matteson as Laertes, and Casey McKinnon as Guildenstern.

The script is derived from the Second Quarto (Q2), rather than the Folio, which is what most people studied in high school. Sidney chose this version of the text because it has “subtle but powerful differences from the Folio throughout. The overall effect is one I find more efficient and emotionally raw. I’ve also taken character inspiration from the Norse history myth of Amleth, in which the funeral Hamlet encounters when he returns from England is his own: He is alive and dead at the same time. Like the Japanese Ronin archetype, he has nothing left to lose, and this makes him the most dangerous of all.”

“Our title refers to the dead King Hamlet, Prince Hamlet’s father,” he adds, “who shows up as a ghost. Calling him Hamlet Maximus supports the Prince’s essential struggle — living up to the image and reputation of the greatest monarch Denmark has ever known; hence, HAMLET MAX.

This makes Hamlet’s relationship with his father extremely important in this version of the story. Having been away from court since he was a boy, the Prince has developed a relationship with an idealized father; a glorified, ‘perfect’ King who exists only in the Prince’s imagination. Christening the deceased King HAMLET MAXIMUS highlights this central delusion in the prince. The Ghost of Hamlet Maximus will appear only in projections with voice-over dialogue. Truly freed from the corporeal, the Ghost can appear, dissolve, and move at (our) will, creating a truly metaphysical experience.”

Methinks this one should give you some chills.

June 15, 17, 21, 24, 2014
Schkapf aka Artworks Theatre
6567-6585 Santa Monica Blvd.
Tickets: $15


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: