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Gary Busey's One-Man Hamlet

  • Theater, Drama
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended

Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

Is Hamlet, prince of Denmark, truly insane or only feigning madness to plot his revenge? Is Gary Busey, hack of Hollywood, truly batshit or only faking it for reality TV? While one question has been asked by Shakespeare scholars, and the other by writers of episode recaps, only one person has raised both in purposeful conjunction. That would be David Carl, a man who can confidently place “Gary Busey Impersonator” at the top of his CV. (He also plays Busey in Point Break Live!) Carl’s 80-minute solo is as much stupid fun as its title suggests. With his death-mask grimace and penchant for New Agey acronyms, the barking-mad Busey—he literally barks and yips—is here to prove his “chops” by playing all roles in the classic tragedy. Employing paper puppets (bearing the actor’s face, of course) and interactive video, Carl and director Michole Biancosino take us on a psychotic ride through the tragedy’s five acts. First Folio purists beware: Busey/Carl takes liberties with the text, as when Polonius’s advice to Laertes seems to contain every catchphrase uttered in the President’s pep talk from Independence Day. For what is essentially a stunt, the piece is neatly crafted and packed with running gags (“Eggs-oont Ophelia,” he drawls into a handheld mike). The high point might be when Carl stages the fight between Hamlet and Laertes in Ophelia's grave as a bloody hand-to-hand brawl between the live actor and a projected video. It’s crazy hilarious.—David Cote

Click here for full TONY coverage of the 2014 New York International Fringe Festival.


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