If you had to take one guess as to what a play with the title “Bat-Hamlet” is about, you would probably be correct. That’s right, “Bat-Hamlet” is what you get when you combine Shakespeare’s classic tragedy “Hamlet” and everyone’s favorite caped crusader, Batman. Writer of “Bat-Hamlet” Jordan Pulliam describes the play as taking “the basic narrative from Shakespeare’s famous tragedy then [piling] on a heaping helping of super-hero parodies and jokes.”
The jokes are indeed plentiful in this quirky comedy. While those with a particular taste for and knowledge of both “Hamlet” and the Batman comics may get the most enjoyment out of the show, it will easily get plenty of laughs out of any audience member. Each of the cast members adds his or her own unique comedic touch to the play, resulting in an eclectic mix of comedy ranging from slapstick to subtle humor. From the overdramatic and generally clueless Hamlet portrayed by Edward Precht, to the enthusiastically maniacal Jester played by David Whittington, to the suddenly sassy Ophelia played by Juliana Wessman, the cast of characters is a haphazard but hilarious one.
The colorfully cartoonish set, designed by Carrie Zolinger, serves as a perfect background for the comic-book comedy. The costumes, designed by Heather Ringley, are precisely what a goofy superhero show needs: eye-catchingly colorful and complete with capes and an abundance of those classic superhero tights. The show is punctuated by ample fight scenes and dance breaks, some of which occur simultaneously, adding to the hilarity of the play.
What may sound like an absurd literary combination at first makes increasingly more sense as the play progresses. As Pulliam pointed out, the two characters of Hamlet and Batman bear striking similarities to one another including, “dead parents, odd ways of seeking justice, complicated love lives, kind of crazy, loyal sidekicks, friends who become enemies, alter egos.” “Bat-Hamlet” seamlessly blends these two stories together to create a highly entertaining spectacle of what ensues when one incorporates the tragedy of an angst-ridden Dane with that of a crime-fighting superhero.
“Bat-Hamlet” premiered at the 2012 Essential Theatre Festival in Atlanta and won the Metropolitan Atlanta Theatre Award for Best Original Work. Since then, Pulliam has written two new scenes which will be premiering in Center Stage’s production.
Pulliam declared, “A night spent watching this show is a night you will not forget.” He speaks the truth.
Directed by Ally Musmeci and Shelby North, “Bat-Hamlet” runs for three days. The last production is Sunday, Feb. 16 at 3 p.m. in Theatre 220 of Simons Center. Tickets are $8 General Admission, or free with your CofC ID.