This is a revised version of a review first published on May 26, 2022.
The first shock is the flying of a checkered tablecloth. It was as if a transparent kite suddenly flew over the platform. It's a ghost, Hamlet's first response in James Ijams' reimagining of Shakespeare's The Fat Ham , which won the 2022 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and is now on Broadway (American Airlines Theater, booked through June 25).
A co-production between the National Black Theater and the Public Theater in New York, where it was produced last year with the same cast, the play is set not in the Danish yard last year, but today during a barbecue in the south yard. About the wedding of Tedra (Nikki Crawford), Gertrude's neighbor, and her late husband's brother, the Reverend (Billy Eugene Jones), a Claudius type.
Fat Ham won the 2022 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Now you can enjoy it.
Before The Public's release, Fat Ham had performed only at the Wilma Theater in Philadelphia, where James, who discussed the play's concept in an interview with the Daily Beast last May, was artistic director. Rather than the tragedy of Hamlet et al, this is a life-affirming play, especially Black's strange passion, while considering all the things that revolve around the existence and sense of destruction of the central character Josie (Marcel Spears). He resists, Hamlet rather than a direct transmission, following the entire tragic path of an iconic Shakespearean character.
Echoing Shakespeare's original plot, Jones also plays Dad, Tedra's dead husband, who has returned to haunt and torment his son like a ghost, forcing him to kill the man who replaced him.
Maruti Evans Design has a rear garden (and includes a built-in surprise or two); Bradley King's lighting keeps us in normal daylight and pitch black as ghosts and other strange things appear. The characters are aware of us as viewers, and Tedra asks Jussie not to get the wrong impression about her. It's a fun, intimate form of audience interaction that adds to the intimacy of the show, especially when it comes to hoping for the best for Juicy.
Ejamis writes about the incident on the poster. “We're in a house in North Carolina. It could also be Virginia, or Maryland, or Tennessee. It's not Mississippi, it's not Alabama, it's not Florida. This is a completely different matter." As for time, he adds, “For me, the American South exists in some liminal space between the past and the present, with an inspired attitude toward the future based on your history of living in the South. Having said all this… I am writing this play in the second decade of the 21st century. This world looks aesthetically four to six decades from now."
The work is compressed into 95 minutes, but it is as intense and thoughtful as it is light and unaffected. Tio (Chris Herbie Holland), a talkative echo of Horatio, begins the play to find out if the world of pornography is for him, then delivers a lengthy monologue about the sexual pleasures of the gingerbread man kind.
Tio first talks about Jusi's fate. “Your father went to prison, his father went to prison, his father went to prison, his father went to prison, and before that. And? Kabbalah. This is a genetic injury. You're taking the trauma of your whole family with you, man. And that's normal. are you ok But you mustn't let that define you." The play tells how Jussie follows Tio's words of wisdom and avoids the tragedy and violence of Hamlet , especially when the Rev takes every opportunity to humiliate Jussie with extreme cruelty. If anyone asks for a refund , then it is him.
Other characters include Opal (Adrienne Mitchell) as Ophelia and Larry (Calvin Lyon Smith) as Laertes. Their mother Rebbie (Benja Kay Thomas) watches the riots with a stern eye, but after Opal and Private Larry reveal their secrets, she isn't as quick to condemn motherhood as one might expect, instead confronting them with her own discovery.
“When I decided to do the adaptation, it was very easy for me to do it in a place that was very familiar to me and people I knew,” Ijams told The Daily Beast last year. So the action takes place in the south, in the family backyard barbecue. My family is not as violent and bloodthirsty as Hamlet , but this music of language, this word hammered into the head, just worked, and it seemed to me that Shakespeare was trying to do the same. His calculator. I'm trying to do the same thing with Black Southern's electric conversation set at a summer barbecue. These two go so well together. I was a little surprised when people started reading it out loud. I think. "Oh, it works!"
Ijamis emphasized that Fat Ham is not an autobiography. "I want to make it clear that no one thinks my family is like that. The action beats are taken from Shakespeare's Hamlet, although some of the beats and the way the characters speak are very similar to what I heard as a child."
The show is very funny and exciting. After Rev's abuse of Juicy, we also think Juicy will be fine. He has no objection to rejecting someone, but he still wants to feel warm and grounded. This is the best of thorns. He was even teased for taking online courses at the University of Phoenix (which is really funny). As his mother, Crawford plays a woman who overcomes grief and lives what she says will be the best time of her life despite the stress around her. He seems convinced of this and at the same time desperately trying to convince himself. One of the most painful scenes in the series is her attempt to escape the abuse of her son by her new husband, which is happening before her eyes.
Driven by the fiery energy of Ali's arrow, Fat Hamlet is not so much a reimagining of Hamlet as it is taking an outline, refining it, and creating something new. The spears are prickly like sap. The young man is completely in himself. Expect an explosion of karaoke from her explanation; It's one of those theater moments where you laugh at first because it sounds amazing, and then you watch Spears go into song and performer and it sounds as real as some of Shakespeare's original, timeless monologues. Periphrasis emoticon. We even get a perfectly timed "there's a problem" line about Spice.
We see how sad Josie is, but also how smart and beautiful she is. No one is a fool, a tool and a victim. We see her love for Lara, and we see – in Lara's adoration for her – a beautiful deconstruction of the "softness" that Juice embodies and drives the play forward.
Fat Ham is a celebration of this multi-faceted kindness rather than violence, divisiveness and malice. Al-Jusi's strength is not that he shied away from confrontation, nor that he is incapable of violence. He is, and he is a victim of it, both physically (shock of the moment) and verbally. He just decided to stay away from both of them. The simplicity of his rejection of one behavior and adoption of another is both refreshing and poignant. Change is possible. We just have to do it.
Yes, there is a climactic battle, but the scene ends not with the blood and bodies of the usual Hamlet , but with sighs and growls, because life goes on, with smiles, laughter and dancing. Hamlet's bloody finale was rewritten. Fat Ham doesn't end, but it does end with the valid statement that they all ended by brute force. The dead are raised by accident. A bright disco begins.
Amazing ending. First, in the scope of the work, not the work, the audience is once again treated with ironic contempt, as if more should be expected from the actors; We're told it's not a Marvel movie. A scene of power and deadly revenge turns into a scene of many exits, honor, safety, community, and ultimately, joy and dancing. The final invitation to the audience is to join.
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