Hamnet not Hamlet: Ireland’s Dead Centre in Boston

I knew that Dead Centre’s production of Hamnet (no that’s not a typo) would get me thinking since that is what art does. Who would have thought that a performance about Shakespeare’s only son would have me thinking about sitting on the couch as my grandfather watched his television screen while I read the TV Guide.  I was provided tickets for review, and as always all opinions are my own.

Hamnet is a play about Shakespeare’s only son who died at a young age.  But, then again it is not really about a young boy who died at 11 before ever really knowing his father.  Hamnet is more than that.  It is about childhood and parenthood.  It is about greatness and striving for something. It is about connection and disconnect.

One would not expect to see ‘Hey Google’ used in such a play, but it is and it is funny but also poignant. The same goes for the TV Guide, which comes up to highlight the disconnect between generations perhaps.

The play is a one man show or rather a one boy show. I always worry that a one person show will be too intense, or too slow. Ollie West threw all my assumptions about a one person show out the window. West was an excellent Hamnet. He captivated the audience and held our attention for the duration of the play. He was a true artist that defied his youth. The play has many dimensions that keep the story moving along and the use of multimedia is both creative and powerful.

West passes the baton on to Aran Murphy for the last week of performances in Boston. Murphy will begin his run here in Boston and continue touring with Dead Centre’s Hamnet.

Hamnet is thought provoking, humorous, and relevant.

Hamnet is playing through October 7th at the Emerson Paramount Center’s Robert J. Orchard Stage, located at 559 Washington Street in downtown Boston. Tickets range from $20- $80, and may be purchased online at www.ArtsEmerson.org, by phone at 617.824.8400, or in person at the box office. Student, senior and group discounts are available.

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