Bars, restaurants, culture and events… Dan Mathers’ weekly guide to what’s going on in Cape May
David Birney is 71 years old and looks better in tights than I do. Actually – David Birney looks better in tights than I THINK I would; I’ve never had the occasion to wear tights. Worse than that, he knows it. “What makes a star?” he asks, “Tights.”
David Birney plays the co-lead role of the ghost of John Barrymore (dressed as Hamlet) in Cape May Stage’s latest production, I Hate Hamlet. He has come back from the beyond to guide a young actor in his pursuit of theatre’s toughest role. The young actor, Andrew Rally, is already a television star and is attempting to return to his roots of classic theatre – but he’s terrified.
My wife and I were at this production as part of my blatant attempt to butter her up before leaving for a soccer-filled weekend with my friends. I returned home from work that Thursday with a bottle of blueberry wine from Nassau Valley Vineyard (they’re just a ferry ride away in Lewes, DE) and a cheesecake from La Patisserie on the Washington Street Mall.
A couple glasses of wine later and I was cracking up at the satirical antics onstage. It got to the point that Jim Rose, a recent Cape May transplant who happened to be sitting next to us, said to me at intermission, “I like the parts where you laugh – like really laugh – way louder than everyone else.” Honestly, that wasn’t just because of the wine.
I love little throwaway lines – jokes that are built into the dialogue yet aren’t expected to receive a full laugh – and I Hate Hamlet was full of them: stereotyping about rhinestone glasses, asking about padding your tights, and plenty of sexual frustration. (The play also has plenty of regular jokes, too, that had the whole audience laughing).
The show continually poked fun at Shakespeare. The night of the performance, as the cast were preparing to leave for the show, Rally’s television director, the embodiment of all that is wrong with Hollywood, said, “He’ll be good. I hope he will. But, with Shakespeare, how can you tell?”
While extolling the virtues of classical theatre, I Hate Hamlet was cognizant of the reality it faced. Following Rally’s showing as Hamlet, the ghost of John Barrymore stood boldly in his tights trying to reflect upon his work in preparing the young actor. “I wasn’t even at the performance,” he said, “I was here – at home – watching television. I’m American.”
Tanya and I thoroughly enjoyed our night: we dressed for the theatre and laughed; we discussed the point the play was making and contemplated its validity while breaking down the individual characters; then we went home, plopped on the couch and flipped on the TV.