Monday, October 4, 2010

'Hamlet, Prince of Puddles': Shakespeare for Small Fries

Brian Kimmet, left, stars as a boy version of Hamlet in "Hamlet, Prince of Puddles."
(Photo courtesy of L'Enfant Terrible)

Mixing colorful costumes with slapstick humor and pop-culture references, L'Enfant Terrible theater company has turned Shakespeare's "Hamlet" into a tragi-comedy (emphasis on the comedy) for the family-friendly set in its production of "Hamlet, Prince of Puddles."

Young children (mostly under 6) and their parents, including CC and I, gathered at the downtown-adjacent Bootleg Theater on Saturday to catch the 45-minute play that had the titular Prince of Denmark bursting into tears (and other puddles) over the death of his father and the subsequent remarriage of his mother, Gertrude (Natasha Midgley), to his devious uncle Claudius (cue to boo's).

The adaptation, written by playwright Angela Berliner (who is also the founder of L'Enfant Terrible and stars as Ophelia) and directed by Justin Zsebe, was clever and offered lots of opportunity for laughs (who knew?), making light of Hamlet's indecision (cue to the puddle) and referencing the popular "Twilight" series and TV phenom "Glee." However, the material often seemed better suited for tweens more than tots -- what with all the death and stuff, as well as some references that I found a lot funnier than CC.

While CC wasn't crazy about the fight scenes ("That's for big kids," she said), she did enjoy the awkward almost-kiss between Hamlet (Brian Kimmet) and Ophelia (Berliner), as well as a chase scene between Hamlet and Claudius (Nathan Kornelis) that included a bit of audience interaction.

The show is definitely a fun take on the Bard's play, and I could see parents enjoying the show along with their kids. The actors were all talented, energetic and looked as if they were having a great time giving children a taste of serious literature with a lot of sugar on the way down.

And being a family-friendly company, L'Enfant Terrible made the atmosphere particularly child-friendly, offering tykes crayons and coloring-book programs to enjoy before the show. After the curtain, the actors made a point of mingling with the crowd in the lobby, happy to take pictures with their pint-sized fans.

"I want a picture with Hamlet," CC said, as we were walking out of the theater.

I have to admit I was proud. Here was my 3-year-old talking about Hamlet and Ophelia -- and we haven't even made it to "Wizards of Waverly Place," much less "Glee."

"Hamlet, Prince of Puddles"
Sept. 25-Oct. 30 (Saturdays, 12 p.m.)
Bootleg Theater
2220 Beverly Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90057
Box office: 213-389-3865 or purchase tickets here
Tickets: Adults ($9.99); Children ($5)

Note: Media tickets provided.


Unknown said...

Love this! Thanks for posting!

L.A. Story said...

Absolutely, Ruth! Definitely a fun way to introduce the kiddos to Shakespeare. :)


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