Two Jedi Knight-watchmen meet Horkeepio and R2-Datio in the woods. They exchange words in iambic pentameter, with a few zingers from Star Wars thrown in, and end up being scared by Ghosty Wan Kenobi. Thus begins Dana’s Boys’ production of Hamluke, now playing at the Lowry Lab Theatre in St. Paul.
Hamluke, a play written and directed by Brad Erickson. Presented by Dana’s Boys through July 27 at the Lowry Lab, 350 St. Peter St., St. Paul. Tickets $20. For information, see myspace.com/hamluke.
Producer Michael T. Mayket and writer/director Brad Erickson have come up with a clever merging of Shakespeare and Hollywood via this quirky play, which runs just over an hour. The two stories actually work remarkably well together, although the plot leans more toward Hamlet than Star Wars.
What Star Wars provides is the design elements. In fact, most of the costumes are fairly authentic looking Star Wars garb. The plastic light sabers, in particular, look like specialty items bought only by geeks and theater companies.
There are definitely some good lines in Erickson’s script: “There is something rotten in the State of Destark.” “Hamluke, I am your father.” There were also some interesting ways Erickson brought Star Wars references into the play, like when Hamlet delivers the “Alas Poor Yorick” speech to a Death Star Knight’s mask.
The acting in this production was quite good. Damon Brook, as Hamluke, had a fine grasp of the language; and Jay Melchior, as Laertolo, had a strong presence. However, all of the actors are upstaged by a remarkable puppet characterization of Polyodius (Yoda as Polonius), manipulated by Mike Rylander.
The main question that comes to my mind is “Why?” Why do this? I don’t think recasting Hamlet in a Star Wars setting gives particular insight into Shakespeare’s text, especially since so many of the original lines are cut. For the most part, it isn’t very funny to watch—except for the occasional giggle as the audience recognizes a Star Wars reference. The play is nifty, but it isn’t profound or hilarious. So I commend the creators for their ingenuity, but this production is bound to appeal only to a limited audience: people who are really, really, really into Star Wars.
Sheila Regan is a theater artist based in Minneapolis. When not performing or writing, she serves as educational coordinator for Teatro del Pueblo.