About ¾ of the way through the second act of The Rehearsal: Playing the Dane, the actors playing Laertes and Hamlet decided it was necessary to pause and take their shirts off before a sword fight. Smiling like the Cheshire cat in my seat I couldn’t help but think… Damn, this show really WAS written for me!
I’d suspected this from the moment I entered the theater to see the cast on stage with a giant Great Dane lolloping about around them. And I continued to feel this way as the text of Hamlet exploded before me, pieced back together in an inventive, insightful new way with each scene. But by the time the second and third boys took their shirts off—the first had removed his in the first act—I was certain. Because three handsome shirtless men speaking Shakespeare’s absolutely beautiful words in Irish/British accents is usually only something that happens in my dreams.
But this wasn’t a dream. No, Pan Pan Theatre’s production of The Rehearsal, which has taken over the Skirball Center at NYU this weekend, was reality. And it was wonderful.
The Rehearsal is an insightful exploration of Hamlet and the creation of theater, and the ways in which those things resonate in our modern lives. It explodes the text, the audition process, and the audience’s relationship to a performance before your eyes. And it involves some really cute boys.
To further attempt to summarize or explain the show—to boil it down to a simple explanation of events—would do a disservice to the material, I think. To be honest, I’m not even entirely certain I’ve sorted through all the layers on layers within The Rehearsal yet. I’m not sure what it all means to me. But I do know I had an amazing theater experience last night, and that my brain is buzzing today, and that’s both rare and worth recommending.
The Rehearsal is only here for three more days, so I suggest you hurry down to the Skirball Center and snag some tickets while you can.