After this performance, William Shakespeare will surely be rolling over in his grave.
London High School Drama Director Scott Blanton has taken a young group of actors — many of which are novices to the stage — and created an atmosphere of organized chaos in presenting the mostly-unknown farce “Barbequing Hamlet.” The show will be on stage Thursday through Saturday in the London High School Joyce Hildebrand Auditorium. Each night begins at 7 p.m. The $6 general admission tickets can be purchased at the door. Maureen Treynor serves as student stage manager, with Luke Peart and Quinn Santucci handling lights and sound.
When amateur director Margo Daley gets hired by the Peaceful Glen Memorial Players to lead their upcoming production of “Hamlet,” she enters into it with excitement and anticipation.
Both of those things start waning quickly as she begins to meet the individuals with whom she is in charge of directing.
First, a Fine Arts Council full of in-fighting gives her changes to the usual Shakespearean classic, such as commercials throughout the show, melodramatic audience participation, and a Wild West setting.
Margo’s anxiety level rises as she meets her potential cast through a memorable audition process. She finds some comfort when her actor/boyfriend Hal is recruited to try to save the day.
To paraphrase Hal, if Hamlet is supposed to be a tragedy, the Peaceful Glen Memorial Players certainly make the show live up to its billing.
A trio of seasoned senior actors share the gem of the show honors.
The first gem, Ruth Peart is quick-witted as Margo, the director who has to learn to go with the flow. As usual, Peart has fine command of the stage, nicely showing Margo’s anxiety as the director deals with her cast members’ surprising quirks.
As the metaphoric knight-in-shining-armor, Hobbes Treynor is chivalric in every sense of the word as Hal. Another gem, as Treynor’s Hal attempts to bring professional acting to this rag-tag community theatre, even he is swept away by the Wild West influence.
The final gem is Sarah George as Tamara, the head of the Fine Arts Council. Trying to serve as a calming influence to Margo, George does a nice job of showing how Tamara’s good intentions turn into more headaches as she is usually the bearer of further stipulations for the show.
The supporting cast is delightful; accentuating various quirks along the way.
Within the Fine Arts Council, Seth Gillilan brings comical energy to exaggerated-storyteller Duncan, Zoey Marshall is brashy and tough as bitter Council President wannabe Hope, and stage newcomer Sarah Meyers puts in just the right amount of mousy and spacey to make Mary Beth sure to be an audience favorite. Paul Huff adds some nice homegrown sarcasm as overworked/underpaid handyman Sarge.
The auditioned actors are a delightfully dysfunctional collection of personalities. Clay Hurley is the maestro of monotone as the laid back Lamar. Lily Marriott matches with him well as the overly dramatic Theodora. As Opal, Sara Madden is charming as the energetic, but often confused, weapon master, while Ciara Cooney will please the audience as the bubbly Zoey. Christian Held delivers as the multi-tasking pizza guy Budgie.
Finally, in cameo appearances, both Jerod Coy (Thursday/Friday) and Cameron Burns (Saturday) expertly heap on the tools of the trade of their character, fertilizer salesman turned drama critic Harlen Dortmunger.
If thou have the opportunity, y’all should gallop to yonder high school and take a gander of these young actors and this Medieval/Wild West mashup.
For what is rotten in Denmark is just fine at London High School.
Jeff Gates has reviewed local theatre for more than 20 years for The Madison Press.
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