Review: Choose "im ur hamlet." as *Ur* Hamlet
im ur hamlet.
Written and directed by Genny Yosco
Presented by Sour Grapes Productions in association with FRIGID NY via YouTube Live
July 17, 19, 15, 29, and August 1, 2020
im ur hamlet. plays out as a videoconferencing call among the main cast assembled by director Iris (Genny Yosco) for an online production of Shakespeare's drama of Danish succession. The cast, some of whom have worked together (or/and slept together) before, is meeting virtually for a first read-through, and the show opens with the actors introducing themselves and their roles in Iris's show. Unfortunately for Iris (but happily for the audience), she pretty much immediately runs into obstacles with her performers. For example, Ophelia (Katherine Yacko) would much rather play her namesake than the part that she has been assigned, Laertes; Ava (Ellen Ko), the play's Gertrude, would seemingly like to be co-director in addition to queen; and Wyatt (Chris Weigandt) has what one might generously call a novel take on Claudius. As the rehearsal goes on, Iris serves as everything from dating counselor to career coach amidst rivalries, backstabbing, and sexcual tension. In a moment that surely resonates with many artists, she wonders aloud if it is this hard for every director. It is not surprising—and is relatable even to those not in the artistic community—to find that Iris is indulging in a little surreptitious drinking during her video conference. The play features some great running gags (including one about the romantic life of Iris's Hamlet, the superbly named Hudson Rockford [Dillon Herbig]) and background jokes (look for Ophelia snacking from a giant bowl of strawberries), and it complements a funny, fast-moving script with effective use of private "side room" chats, reaction shots, and actual audience comments.
im ur hamlet.'s satire of the narcissism and jealousy of actors echoes Iris's characterization of Hamlet himself as a spoiled child. And the (actual, not fictional) actors in im ur hamlet. are all, in their own way, excellent at being "the worst." Yosco, for instance, shines in Iris's deadpan and increasingly weary frustration, and Paeton Chavis makes the most of her character Daphne's show-stealing blow up, while Yacko invests Ophelia with an uproariously grandiose recitation style (even when the lines are not hers), and you probably won't soon forget Weigandt's King Chet.
Iris's Polonius, Cliff (McKylin Rowe), attempts to console Iris by pointing out that staging theater via videoconferencing software is a new way of doing things that is "hard as hell" and that "no one likes," a statement that has more than a ring of truth to it. However, if the results are as enjoyable as im ur hamlet., then the new normal, for as long as it lasts, isn't so bad after all.
-John R. Ziegler and Leah Richards