Hollywood Fringe 2018
Hamlet moves in with Laertes and Ophelia after the death of his father; things get dramatic.
For anyone weary at the thought of seeing another spin on Shakespeare’s most famous tragedy, suck it up and make room for “Laertes Loves Hamlet Loves Ophelia,” a fantastic new play written and performed by Payden Ackerman, Kelley Pierre, and Katelyn Schiller.
Taking place entirely in the living room of Laertes (Payden Ackerman) and Ophelia’s (Kelley Pierre) shared apartment, complete with an area rug, furniture, a bar, stacks of books, and bits of clutter common among busy young adults, “Laertes Loves Hamlet Loves Ophelia” starts just after the funeral of Hamlet’s father, a governor. The moody Hamlet (Katelyn Schiller), sardonic as ever, can’t help but wonder if his uncle, the Lieutenant Governor, is somehow behind his father’s death. In his time of need, Laertes and Ophelia agree to let Hamlet crash at their place for a little while. Gone is Shakespeare’s beautiful language; instead we get modern vernacular and a They Might Be Giants sing-along.
Schiller’s Hamlet commands the stage and draws you into the story with his very first line. He’s going through a lot right now, but he’s up to something. Schiller’s performance is a real highlight of the production. Not to be outdone, Ackerman’s Laertes, nowhere near as fiery as the original, still holds strong as Hamlet’s affable and manipulated friend. Pierre’s Ophelia also deviates from the original in a positive way to a more headstrong Ophelia, not willing to play along with each of Hamlet’s whims, just some of them.
This play is smart, sexy, and at all the right moments, very funny. It also manages to keep the audience engaged by always keeping something bubbling beneath the surface. Sadly, one really great plot twist is spoiled for you in the title of the show, but that shouldn’t prevent you from enjoying one of this year’s top ensemble pieces. Between this show and last year’s “Quantum Entanglement,” it’s now clear that the Lucid Dramatic production team is one to look out for. I look forward to their next show. In the meanwhile, enjoy this one. -ZACHARY BERNSTEIN