A thrilling re-imagining of “Hamlet” as a puppet show is currently being staged at the Maverick Theater. Shaun Michael McNamara’s production of “Hamlet Has No Legs” is a fun, funny, and charming retelling of Shakespeare's tragic masterpiece.
Puppets take the stage, narrate and perform a somewhat condensed version of the story of the Danish prince and his family, and even heckle late-comers. It is to the actors credit that the they actually dissolve from the story and the stage. After a minute or two it is the puppets that you watch and listen to.
In it’s long form “Hamlet” is a tragic masterpiece, but this is it’s short-form. Shaun has edited it down to 1:15 min. He brought in master puppeteer Danny Mantooth to train the already skilled actors at the art of the puppet show. The result is a tightly woven fabric of cloth characters and carefully knit words. The actors thread their way through a dense stage, stepping carefully over props and puppeteers, all the while wearing black mesh masks.
The play opens with Rosencrantz (McNamara) and Guildenstern (Nathan Makaryk) introducing the play from behind a balcony wall looking distant, flat, and very puppet-like, but within moments the actors and action are flowing across the stage and up to the audience.
A host of other characters are played by McNamara, Makaryk, and Mantooth (or his understudy Evan Green), but you won’t be able to tell. Lighting effects and powerful sound effects accentuate the performance.
King Claudius (Glenn Freeze) and Queen Gertrude (Kalinda Gray) are the parents around which Hamlet’s life uncoils. It is for their benefit, in one of the highlights of the show, that Hamlet asks some visiting players to stage… a puppet show!
The mirth of the puppets and puppeteers prevents the play from ever becoming to profoundly tragic, but professional acting of the talented cast certainly succeeds in entertaining.
The show continues through Feb 12th. 714.526.7070 www.mavericktheater.com.