"It's Shakespeare, right? It's like algebra on stage."

I HATE HAMLET is a fast and furious comedy by the well-known stage and screenwriter Paul Rudnick. The play deals with the theatrical fortunes - and misfortunes - of a successful TV actor who returns to the New York stage after a glittering career in L.A.


I Hate Hamlet


Andrew Rally is a household name and national heart-throb thanks to his role in a famous television soap opera. Now that the series has finished, he has returned to New York with his hopelessly romantic girlfriend Deirdre. They move into a luxury penthouse apartment, originally owned in the 1930s by the Hollywood superstar John Barrymore. There Andrew plans to relax until his next role comes along. Young, charismatic and wealthy he is a man who has everything.


Or does he?


The apartment he moves into turns out to be a gothic monstrosity, which he hates; the only job offer he has received is to do a TV advert for a cereal bar; and, worst of all, Deirdre will not sleep with him until he can prove himself to be a real romantic hero. Salvation seems to come when he is offered the role of Shakespeare's "Hamlet" - except for one problem: he hates Shakespeare; and he particularly hates "Hamlet". He is torn between the possibility of winning Deirdre's love (and her body!) and the likelihood of making a complete fool of himself in the most challenging role ever written for an actor. The situation gets a lot worse when he discovers that there is a third person living in the flat - the ghost of John Barrymore.


Barrymore was a Hollywood idol and is reputed to have been the best "Hamlet" of his generation. He was also a drunkard, a rake and a womanizer - and death has not changed him. Outraged that Andrew could even think of not playing "Hamlet", Barrymore has returned from the dead to persuade him, train him and if necessary force him to take the role. More than that, he will not leave until Andrew has played his first performance as the Dane. What follows is an hilarious clash of personalities and of cultures. The glory of the stage versus the glamour of the screen with rapid, witty dialogue and even a sword fight. Rudnick's script parodies and mirrors the key events of Shakespeare's masterpiece - Hamlet's obsession with acting, his problems with women and the influence of the Ghost - and cleverly re-enacts some of the more famous moments from the play.


If you are interested in the real John Barrymore (actually the uncle of Drew Barrymore),
here are a few interesting web sites:


An illustrated site with lots of information taken from a John Barrymore book www.shakespearean.com
Small collection of original posters at www.brucehershenson.com
And this site with all the information about the Barrymore clan ciajfk.com/barrymore/john.html