Cyberspace - Feb 5. Much to the delight of a small audience of devoted internet relay chat affecionados and wannabee theatre goers, the world premier of Hamnet opened to audience acclaim at 20:25 hrs universal time on channel #hamnet this afternoon.
The delayed curtain was a result of a number of opening night snafus including a leading lady who had not retreived her script from email, a rowdy bunch of understudies, and a last minute debate over the merits (or folly) of having the entire cast on the same irc server.
The script, an abridgement of the original shakespearian quarto was rumored to have been recently unearthed on a mass storage device located somewhere on the internet. Thankfully, it was brought to the attention of producer email@example.com (El_Ingles) prior to its being authenticated and submitted for auction at Christie's.
Although the reaction of the audience remained inaudible due to limitations of the irc medium, the entire channel virtually was filled with applause (or filled with virtual applause) as the curtain finally rose on the magnificent set designed by firstname.lastname@example.org (Zendar). This critic immediately was taken by the banners at the tops of each romantic elsenorian tower, athough the effect might have been better if the ushers had restrained a boorish late-comer from dashing to his seat at this theatrically crucial moment.
The play itself held true to the original Shakespearean Unix, with few changes to the text to accommodate contemporary audience members less acquainted with this classic operating system. A small pratfall during the entrance of hamlet himself, in line nine (which was repeated six times) of the numerated script, did little damage to the mood of the performance. Nor was the audience disturbed following line 15 when the prompter executed a modem dialing command in full view.
The audience, however, was mystified by the appearance of a bot, identified only as Duck9, who kicked hamlet of the channel just prior to line 51. This reviewer later learned that the mysterious bot was a misguided personal friend of accomplished shakespearean actors email@example.com (Longy) and firstname.lastname@example.org (RokinDuck), who, in the roles of Polonius and the King, respectively, had been played out a scene which called for the King being kicked of the channel by Hamlet. The bot, springing to the actors' aid, jumped upon the stage and unceremonioulsy booted Hamlet, played by the surprised Ian Taylor, in his guest appearance from the Royal Shakespeare Company.
In the concluding gruesome finale, the queen, played by email@example.com (Fingwe), consumed the tainted Danish vodka prepared by Hamlet in his chemistry class, and despite of having ops, dies in agony. And, in a cameo role as atand-in for Laertes, producer El_Ingles delivers a memorable death cry which revirberates throughout the channel. When Hamlet dies of overacting in line 71, all that remains is for Fortinbras, played by the ubiquitous firstname.lastname@example.org (RokinDuck), to return to Elsinor amidst drums and colors.
As the final curtain fell on Butthead, who somehow managed to enter the production via an anonymous irc server in Taiwan, the audience rose to its feet, shouting Bravo!
Following the performance, this critic was treated to a backstage tour of the virtual theatre where he had the opportunity to meet several of the cast members. To put to rest once and for all rumors of illicit drug use, this reviewer can vouch for the fact that vgrey@apm- b337-7.ucsd.edu (Valerie), who had delivered a stellar performance as Ophelia, appeared both sober and coherenent, dressed in grey slacks and a modest blouse. (However, her changing out of her costume on stage did not go unnoticed by either the other members of the cast and crew or, indeed, by this critic.)
In an exclusive interview, email@example.com (Gazza) noted that while audiences have commonly paid little attention to the essential supporting characters in Hamlet, his unique and masterful development of the his role was bound to mark a new standard for the Shakepearean stage. Unfortunately, this critic cannot recall whether he was cast as Rosenkranz or Guilderstern, but rest asured that he was indeed outstanding.
All and all, I found the production refreshing and surprisingly complelling inspite of occasional lapses in the actors' delivery of their lines in Elizabethan ASCII. The identities of many of the players appeared to change frequently during the performance, giving an other- worldly quality to this theatrical classic.
In an off-the-record statement, one member of the company suggested that the cast may reconvene for a production of something by Samuel Beckett or Sam Shepard. Given complimentary tickets, I can assure you that this reviewer would make a reasonable effort to attend.
© 1994 by OldBear@world.std.com. May be freely distributed in its entirety for non-commercial purposes only or reasonably quoted in part with attribution for either commecial and non-commercial purposed. Any resemblance between irc users, living or dead, without satirical purpose is purely coincidental and should not be taken personally. Besides, if you're that sensistive, you shouldn't be on the internet anyway.