REVIEW – Gary Busey’s One-Man Hamlet as Performed by David Carl

*****

 

By Danielle Farrow

Gary Busey’s One-Man Hamlet as performed by David Carl is one heck of a trip! Carl plays Busey playing Hamlet and all the other characters on display in this roller coaster ride through Shakespeare’s tragedy that has been turned into laugh out loud comedy by Carl and co-creator and director Michole Biancosino.

If you are not too familiar with Gary Busey (Buddy Holly Story, Lethal Weapon, Point Break, The Firm to name a few of his more famous films), or if Hamlet is not a play you know well, you will still enjoy the sheer impressive energy of David Carl as he presents his Busey, cut out puppets, song and special soliloquies (including one where there are others present!). The piece draws on Busey’s career – and on non-Busey films – without a need for prior knowledge (though such can enhance the experience) and it makes fine use of projections, including animation. Connections made for these are clever as well as highly amusing, and a particular use of film for a fight with himself is really rather brilliant, as well as the interaction with the ghost of Hamlet’s father. All of this is technically supported by specific use of mics (well handled) and lighting which, as well as creating apt atmospheres, also displays quirky humour.

Carl, who is accomplished in voice and accents generally, as well as in being Gary Busey, is excellent in his responses not only to his props on stage, but also to audience members, his improvisation experience clearly showing in his skilful ease here. The pace never flags, and includes some apt variation for all its forward drive, and the humour ranges from wit to slapstick. Busey’s love for acronyms such as ‘FEAR: False Evidence Appearing Real’ is lovingly included with entertaining ‘Gary Hamletisms’, and there is a light touch to some more poignant moments, which allows audience members to decide for themselves if they want to engage with more serious aspects or just stick with good fun laughter.

The Hamlet story is told through all this, mostly clear, and does actually survive all the comedy antics. There is also some relevance in this choice of matching the two, with subtle areas of perception, comedy and tragedy touched upon: just what is funny / mad / tragic? Well, Gary Busey’s One-Man Hamlet as performed by David Carl is all three, but above all it is very, very funny.

6-30 August, 17:50 (19:00), Underbelly Cowgate

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