TV actor Andrew Rally, down on his luck, despising how he’s had to pay for rent and meals by playing opposite a hand puppet in ads for Trailburst Nuggets breakfast cereal, yearning for a serious role, gets a shot at playing Hamlet in New York. But, to be or not to be the melancholy, nutty Danish prince, he’s not sure he’s up to it. Fortunately, he gets help from one of the great Hamlets of all time, John Barrymore. The ghost of that legendary star materializes in Andrew’s apartment, his former domicile. He coaches the screen actor in what it takes to walk the tightrope of performing on stage. Live actors at Omaha Community Playhouse take up the challenge, including when those two characters take arms against a sea of troubles and cross swords in Paul Rudnick’s I Hate Hamlet. 

“Rudnick knows where the laugh buttons are, and he pushes them like a virtuoso” said the Los Angeles Times.

Rudnick, FYI, wrote this 1991 script inspired by real life. Quite by chance, the idiosyncratic  Washington Square apartment he rented turned out to have been Barrymore’s around the time that actor played Hamlet in New York. “The karma became overwhelming,”  the playwright said.

Rudnick went on to much fame and fortune with other unpredictably hilarious scripts, books and articles. Two years after this play, he had a bigger hit, Jeffrey, called a comedy about AIDS. That garnered an Obie Award and an Outer Critics Circle Award.  Much more at   

At Omaha Community Playhouse, ‘tis a consummation devoutly to be wished.

I Hate Hamlet runs April 17-May 10 at Hawks Mainstage, Omaha Community Playhouse, 6915 Cass St. Weds.-–Sat.: 7:30 p.m., Sun.: 2 p.m. Tickets $16-$36.

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