I was fortunate enough to see this wonderfully clever comedy last night. It was originally part of NYC’s Fringe Festival, but the run extended. (But not for long! The last shows are this weekend, so if you’re in New York and want to see the show, check out the link for shows this weekend.)

The premise: Hamlet, King Lear, Romeo and Juliet are forced, by the laws of metaphysics, to “attend” every performance of the plays that bear their name. And since they die in unpleasant ways, that’s no fun for them. They spend their days in a bar complaining about their creator, until a former-playwright-turned-lawyer comes into the bar and proposes a way to get revenge.

If you’re expecting lots of Shakespeare-related jokes, you might be a little disappointed. Which isn’t to say a familiarity with the plays isn’t helpful. But beyond a few Hamlet-wants-Gertrude jokes (which are pretty old hat and overdone), the magic of the characters is in how distinct they are from their Shakespearian counterparts and how they seem to have grown from their experience of being them, night after night after night.

And it’s meta on many levels. The writer of the play is, in fact, a theater lover who went to law school and is an attorney, and he speaks through the character in the play that bears his name. He doesn’t regret his choices, but says he has always wanted to be a part of the theater, and this was his opportunity.

Anyway, if you have the opportunity, go see it. You’ll thank yourself.

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