by KC Weakley · August 17, 2014
Productions of Hamlet can go any number of directions: classical (Olivier), staid (read boring), mediocre, clever, campy (Muppets), and over-the-top. I was leery – another solo Hamlet – with puppets and video? David Carl’s Gary Busey’s One-Man Hamlet is definitely OTT. Ambitious, audacious, kitsch, slapstick, and extremely energetic. Bravo.
Carl has re-written Shakespeare as a romping, tongue-in-cheek expose of Busey’s life and career – drawing fodder from current Kardashian events as well as just about every other play, film, TV show, and epic ever created. And he’s done well.
Bits are heavy-handed, not that that’s a criticism, just an observation. The soliloquies become National Enquirer/Jerry Springer worthy rants. Such cheek. Carl uses a wireless mic to cue all the stage directions with accompanying video subtitles, as overdone as the bits.
Videography by Jeanette Sears and Carl is ingenious and effective, especially the Act V graveyard fight scene with Carl-cum-Busey-cum-Hamlet-cum-Laertes. Brilliant staging throughout by director Michole Biancosino.
Lighting by Derek Wright spoke volumes. Carl missed his mark occasionally making us wonder if that was giddily intentional. Even the slightly defective flashlight had character in Carl’s able hands. The puppets are craftily crafted by Carl’s hands, too. Simple, over-sized paper cutout headshots of celebrity actors who’ve played these parts in much larger productions, with stick arms and swords and ego-busting extra large crowns. Carl voices these cutouts with clarity and cunning.
Carl gives an amazing rendition of Busey himself; full of ego, panache and self-aggrandizement. A joyous show. The pitch for paintings of “Busey-isms” is totally apropos of Busey and this Hamlet. Congrats!
Go see Gary Busey’s One-Man Hamlet.