Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The Betsy Stage: Through November 22
                              Gina Walker (Gertrude) and Patti Murtha(Hamlet)
Since I had been to see one of the shows at The Betsy Stage earlier this year I had a semi sorta kinda maybe notion of what they were up to. The powers that be at this venue, whose productions are free to the public, like to use Shakespeare as a blueprint and then press their own matrix over it.

     In this case “Hamlet” is subsumed by the culture of the gypsies. The genders are often reversed in these productions such that Hamlet becomes a woman and Ophelio a man. And… one is mystified at seeing that Orsino’s words from the opening of Twelfth Night and those of that bloody Dude in the Scottish play rear their heads from time to time as well! However … there are enough creative strokes and flourishes that one is entertained and amused. And although I did not greatly appreciate their “adaptation” of “King Lear,” last spring, this one’s bizarre “Ham”-miness was ‘pork for the general’ as concerns this transmogrification of the Bard’s masterpiece.
 L-R: Gypsy Campfire (left to right) - Jaycee Sanchez (Marcellus); Dave Coumo (Francisco); Adwin Gallo (Taloche); Tim McGrath (Horatio); Shelby Latrop (Chavi); Christopher Wells (Osrick)

     The acting is all over the map. 
    It is, however, developed around a colorful stage design depicting a gypsy camp behind a circus tent. 

     Belly dancing women tossing scarves in the air - and then catching them - bridge the scenes.

     The overall effect of this show is that someone has been told the story of Hamlet and the story of the gypsies on the same day and got the two mixed up. Imagine a mash-up of these two produced by a group of aspiring thespians with a string of Christmas lights, some scarves and without the requisite funding for a show.

     There are several threads of silliness that run throughout the reinvented text allowing such moments as the actress playing Gertrude to sputter such lines as: “My husband killed my husband?”

     Among the other amusing oddities – and they are legion! –is one melodramatic moment in which Hamlet sends her mother to “a nunnery.”

     There are a few more things you may be surprised to discover about the Bard’s characters in this version of the story of the Great Dane! You’ll need to discover these for yourselves.      

     The onstage band made up of organ, guitar and some instruments not usually heard in the repertoire allow for a thoroughly enlivening acoustic experience.

     So as Desdemona says to Caliban…"

if music be the food of love, play on.” 
     Or was that Orsino????

     “All the rest is silence.”

The Betsy Stage presents
A gypsy camp, with its family of performers and musicians, is the perfect place to tell our Hamlet.
Oct. 3 - Nov. 22
Fri./ Sat. @ 8p.m.
*No Performance Oct 31
Cost:  FREE (donations accepted)
Seating is limited and this show has been selling out.
Reservations required by email or 720-328-5294
The Betsy Stage, 1133 S. Huron St. Denver, CO 80223 

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