WINDY CITY TIMES
||THEATER REVIEW Bat-Hamlet
by Mary Shen Barnidge
This article shared 6299 times since Wed Apr 2, 2014
Playwright: Jordan Pulliam At: Corn Productions at the Cornservatory, 4210 N. Lincoln Ave. Tickets: 773-650-1331; www.cornservatory.org; $7-$15 Runs through: April 26
When you think "Man in Black," what might come to mind is Zorro or Johnny Cash, depending on your age and pop-culture compass. What came to Jordan Pulliam's mind were the Dark Knight and the Melancholy Daneand why not? Both share the introspective demeanor demanded of romantic heroes, both devote their lives to the restoration of order in a world rendered chaotic by villainy, and, most significantly, both adopt a disguise in the course of their pursuing justice. "Sometimes a man has to dress differently to do the things he does" Bat-Hamlet tells Ophelia before preparing to confront his likewise incognito adversaries, little anticipating that his lesson will soon infect the entire Danish court.
The funeral that launches our story is that of Police Commissioner James Gordrick, king of Gothick, whose daughter Barbara, has married his successor, called The Jester. Their hasty wedding leads her brother Hamlet to suspect something rotten in his copyright-infractionless kingdom. Once the hitherto-passive prince comes to recognize the advantage conferred by donning fearsome garb, he proceeds to disclose a conspiracy of murder and extortion, despite the efforts of the Jester's alliesthe Lords Riddles and Puffin, along with a trio of henchpersons. Soon the mysterious Bat-Hamlet finds his quest aided by intrepid comrade Horatio and the aforementioned Barbara ( now rechristened "Songbird Boy" and "Bat-Hamlet- Girl" ) as well as by the ambivalent O-Feline and Green Laertes.
Pulliam wisely puts his superhero lore before his classical writ, resulting in a text no sillier than mandated by its genre, while Kallie Noelle Rolison's deftly directs an athletic cast that sprints through its paces ( including Orion Couling's spectacular action scenes ) with olympic stamina and unwavering characterizations no easy task when the "play" that catches the conscience of the Jester King is Hamlet performing a stand-up comedy act, and the intermission leaves our captive caped crusaders menaced by a melting-ice jar containing a cobra with a grenade in its mouth.
Matthew Lunt navigates the slippery balance between shyness and swagger as the princely playboy-turned-macho man to retain a presence even in the company of Pete Navis' slithery Riddles, Patrick A. Pantelis' Tennessee Williams-lookalike Puffin and Lucas Thatcher's shrill Jester.
It's easy to imagine fresh-from-the-classroom actors tumbling over themselves with the enthusiasm engendered by a script combining the zany humor of Mel Brooks, Monty Python and Hanna-Barbera, but Corn Productions' twenty years-plus reputation is founded on precisely this brand of Looney-Tunes spoofery, making for entertainment smarter than its premise would appear to indicate.
This article shared 6299 times since Wed Apr 2, 2014
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