A Long Time Ago, in a Denmark Far, Far Away...

Spotlight: Hamlet meets Star Wars at Hennepin Stages

Writer/director Brad Erickson's high concept here is to smash together Hamlet with Star Wars and see what comedy results. If that sounds like a good idea to you, this is your show. Aiding this premise is a great deal of goofy energy and a script that rarely passes up the opportunity to deliver another groaner. The action opens with Ghostly Wan Kenobi (Erickson) making his spectral appearance to the castle guards. The scene signals the show's central choice: Rather than drag Shakespeare into a space opera, the familiar sci-fi icons have been wedged like square pegs into the round holes of Denmark. We soon meet Hamluke (Matt Spring), who is pissed off about the murder of "his father, mentor, uncle, aunt, and all his friends from Alderaan." (If you miss the joke, never fear: It'll be repeated about 15 more times before the evening is done.) What follows is a nicely condensed one-act distillation of Hamlet, with Shakespeare's incandescent verse set against George Lucas's insanely tone-deaf dialogue. When Hamluke and Opheleia (Lisa Burton) have it out, Spring wrestles with Hamlet's dialogue while Burton replies with a cut-and-paste of Princess Leia's iconic lines. And when Hamluke strikes a blow in his duel with Laertolo (Laertes done up as Han Solo, natch), Laertolo blurts out, "Great shot, kid! That was one in a million!" Mike Rylander is a standout as Darthius (Claudius in Vader drag), a big guy with a square jaw who, apropos nothing, pulls a Yoda puppet from under his cloak and does a spot-on impression of the annoying little Jedi master. In general the cast fares about as well with Shakespeare's dialogue as would a typical community theater production—that is to say, they don't butcher it. But this Hamluke doesn't really pretend to be more than it is. There are more than a few solid laughs along the way, and at about 75 minutes, it doesn't overstay its welcome. Up next? Let's see someone combine Henry V with The Sopranos. No, really.

 
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