Tuesday, August 24, 2010

FRINGE: Getting Even With Shakespeare

For a play about Shakespeare, there are an awful lot of Beckett jokes. Though Matt Saldarelli's Getting Even With Shakespeare primarily deals with the playwright in the title, no one is safe in this hilarious madcap comedy which references everything from Star Wars to Pirandello.

The play takes place in a bar where Shakespearean tragic heroes hang out in between shows (whenever their plays are performed anywhere in the world, they have to be there). Josh Odsess-Rubin is appropriately douchey as Hamlet, Patrick Pizzolorusso is the comedic standout as the angry Macbeth, John D'Arcangelo is the pitiful King Lear, Amanda Tudesco channels Blair Waldorf as the Upper East Side princess Juliet (the only character that has conformed to the times), and Ben Holmes is an adorably innocent Romeo. The bartender is an actress known as Ophelia #482, played delightfully as an airhead by Kelsey Formost. How these Ophelias come to be at this bar is never explained, but no matter--disbelief has to be suspended to enjoy this play.

Lawyer Matt Saldarelli (Greg Ayers) stumbles into the bar one night and wants to be part of the exclusive club. The requirements are that you have to be a character in a play (he was--in a college play that he wrote), you have to drink pig's blood (he obliges), and you have to exact revenge on William Shakespeare. Saldarelli decides to do this by writing a play.

The real Saldarelli clearly had a lot of fun writing Getting Even With Shakespeare and the audience has just as much fun watching. The best moments are when the fictional characters talk amongst themselves (the play opens with Hamlet and Macbeth discussing who had it worse). I could do with less of the fictional Saldarelli. The play gets off on one too many self-indulgent tangents, but even so, theater nerds are sure to get a kick out of this play.

Remaining performances are Wed 25 at 7:30 and Fri 27 at 7 at the Players Theatre.

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