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Fortinbras

Courtney H. Burr III presents a comedy in two acts by Lee Blessing. Directed by Howard Fine; set, Dan Smith; lighting, Lonnie Alcaraz; costumes, Dawna Oak; sound, Garth Hemphill. Opened Oct. 3, 1996. Reviewed Oct. 27; runs through Nov. 24. Running time: 1 hour, 50 min. Cast: Paul Gutrecht (Hamlet), Philip Tanzini (Osric), Patrick Fabian (Horatio), Warren Burton (English Ambassador, Polonius), Bill Campbell (Fortinbras), Jules Devin (Captain of the Norwegian Army), Shannon Black (Marcellus), Stephen Heath (Bernardo), Stefania Magidson (Polish Maiden), Michelle Silver (Polish Maiden), Leigh-Allyn Baker (Ophelia), Tom Dugan (Claudius), Moira Price (Gertrude), Jason Squire (Laertes). Playwright Lee Blessing's delightfully wicked sequel to "Hamlet" is marvelously directed by Howard Fine with a masterful comedic performance by Bill Campbell ("Rocketeer") as Fortinbras, the dying Hamlet's designated successor to the Danish throne. Blessing has taken an imaginative premise and mined it for all its comic potential, at the same time exploring deeper levels of political and spiritual meaning. When Fortinbras, clearly the only happy, outgoing member of the Danish royal clan, happens upon the dying and dead royals in the throne room of Hamlet's castle, he embarks on his own reign as king with typical political aplomb he launches a cover-up. Before long, Fortinbras is besieged by the ghosts of the royals, including Polonius (Warren Burton), Claudius (Tom Dugan), Gertrude (Moira Price), Laertes (Jason Squire), Ophelia (Leigh-Allyn Baker) and Hamlet (Paul Gutrecht), who demand that he tell the truth, or at least some form of it. Before long, all the badgering from the ghosts drives the formerly happy-go-lucky Fortinbras to despair. "Something about this castle makes me want to talk to myself," Fortinbras complains as he launches into a soliloquy. Meanwhile, the living people in the castle aren't much help, either. Hamlet's former servant, Osric (Philip Tanzini), bumbles the plan to concoct a story about a Polish spy who murdered the royals, and Hamlet's pal Horatio (Patrick Fabian) constantly berates Fortinbras for his shortcomings in comparison to the beloved Hamlet. At the same time, the Danish armies, in a cruel twist of fate, are easily conquering most of Europe and the Middle East while ignoring Fortinbras' orders to retreat. Blessing's deconstruction of "Hamlet" is rich with metaphor and irony, reverberating with insights about politics, history and truth. Far more than any political polemic, Blessing's play drives home the point about hypocrisy in the life of the polity with piercing wit and style. The play also offers insights on the spiritual dimension of politics, as the royal ghosts are condemned to a netherworld of regret as they endlessly relive their moral lapses. The real gift of this production, however, is the stellar performance of Campbell, who, under Fine's direction, shows a terrific range of emotional tone and shading even as he delivers a knock-out comedic punch. Campbell is a charming, charismatic actor who has clearly only begun to shine in both his film and stage roles. Fine deserves particular credit for delivering both the belly laughs and the intellectual darts that this piece promises. The tone of the production is strong and consistent, and the ensemble acting is impeccable. Tanzini is excellent as the simpering Osric, Baker is sharply seductive as the feisty Ophelia, and Fabian makes a perfect straight man as the stalwart Horatio. Set design by Dan Smith, costume design by Dawna Oak and especially the dynamic sound design by Garth Hemphill add to this memorable production. Hoyt Hilsman

Courtney H. Burr III presents a comedy in two acts by Lee Blessing. Directed by Howard Fine; set, Dan Smith; lighting, Lonnie Alcaraz; costumes, Dawna Oak; sound, Garth Hemphill. Opened Oct. 3, 1996. Reviewed Oct. 27; runs through Nov. 24. Running time: 1 hour, 50 min. Cast: Paul Gutrecht (Hamlet), Philip Tanzini (Osric), Patrick Fabian (Horatio), Warren Burton (English Ambassador, Polonius), Bill Campbell (Fortinbras), Jules Devin (Captain of the Norwegian Army), Shannon Black (Marcellus), Stephen Heath (Bernardo), Stefania Magidson (Polish Maiden), Michelle Silver (Polish Maiden), Leigh-Allyn Baker (Ophelia), Tom Dugan (Claudius), Moira Price (Gertrude), Jason Squire (Laertes). Playwright Lee Blessing’s delightfully wicked sequel to “Hamlet” is marvelously directed by Howard Fine with a masterful comedic performance by Bill Campbell (“Rocketeer”) as Fortinbras, the dying Hamlet’s designated successor to the Danish throne. Blessing has taken an imaginative premise and mined it for all its comic potential, at the same time exploring deeper levels of political and spiritual meaning. When Fortinbras, clearly the only happy, outgoing member of the Danish royal clan, happens upon the dying and dead royals in the throne room of Hamlet’s castle, he embarks on his own reign as king with typical political aplomb he launches a cover-up. Before long, Fortinbras is besieged by the ghosts of the royals, including Polonius (Warren Burton), Claudius (Tom Dugan), Gertrude (Moira Price), Laertes (Jason Squire), Ophelia (Leigh-Allyn Baker) and Hamlet (Paul Gutrecht), who demand that he tell the truth, or at least some form of it. Before long, all the badgering from the ghosts drives the formerly happy-go-lucky Fortinbras to despair. “Something about this castle makes me want to talk to myself,” Fortinbras complains as he launches into a soliloquy. Meanwhile, the living people in the castle aren’t much help, either. Hamlet’s former servant, Osric (Philip Tanzini), bumbles the plan to concoct a story about a Polish spy who murdered the royals, and Hamlet’s pal Horatio (Patrick Fabian) constantly berates Fortinbras for his shortcomings in comparison to the beloved Hamlet. At the same time, the Danish armies, in a cruel twist of fate, are easily conquering most of Europe and the Middle East while ignoring Fortinbras’ orders to retreat. Blessing’s deconstruction of “Hamlet” is rich with metaphor and irony, reverberating with insights about politics, history and truth. Far more than any political polemic, Blessing’s play drives home the point about hypocrisy in the life of the polity with piercing wit and style. The play also offers insights on the spiritual dimension of politics, as the royal ghosts are condemned to a netherworld of regret as they endlessly relive their moral lapses. The real gift of this production, however, is the stellar performance of Campbell, who, under Fine’s direction, shows a terrific range of emotional tone and shading even as he delivers a knock-out comedic punch. Campbell is a charming, charismatic actor who has clearly only begun to shine in both his film and stage roles. Fine deserves particular credit for delivering both the belly laughs and the intellectual darts that this piece promises. The tone of the production is strong and consistent, and the ensemble acting is impeccable. Tanzini is excellent as the simpering Osric, Baker is sharply seductive as the feisty Ophelia, and Fabian makes a perfect straight man as the stalwart Horatio. Set design by Dan Smith, costume design by Dawna Oak and especially the dynamic sound design by Garth Hemphill add to this memorable production. Hoyt Hilsman

Fortinbras

(Howard Fine Theater; 99 seats; $ 22.50)

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