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Review: Chaos, laughs as 'Hamlet' is readied in 'Three Days'

April 18, 2013|By Amy Nicholson
  • A scene from "Three Days of Hamlet."
A scene from "Three Days of Hamlet." (Fenix Pictures )

Like Hamlet, L.A. actor Alex Hyde-White is haunted by the ghost of his father, the British character actor Wilfrid. Best known as Colonel Pickering in the 1964 film "My Fair Lady," Wilfrid warned his son that "true talent usually skips a generation."

"Three Days (of Hamlet)" is Alex's rebuttal. In a 72-hour self-dare, Hyde-White directed and starred in a 99-seat production of "Hamlet" — with himself in the title role, naturally — and then fashioned this documentary about it.

The result is high school English crossed with "Waiting for Guffman," though the humor is largely accidental. Hyde-White's cast includes friends such as Richard Chamberlain as Polonius and Iva Hasperger (the beautiful blond star of Roger Corman's "Dinoshark") as Ophelia, as well as a lady grabbed from the audience to play the messenger.

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Nearly everyone is in over his or her head, including the director. "I don't know if he's lost his mind or never had it," says his Horatio. The comedy comes from the cast's passive-aggressive good cheer. After ranting that Hyde-White is getting his makeup done rather than organizing rehearsal, one young actor pauses and grins, "That's brilliant — he's keeping us on our toes."

In a world glutted with Shakespearean revivals, the only reasons this "Hamlet" had to be staged at all, let alone turned into a doc, are vanity and sentiment. No matter. Shrugs his Gertrude (Stefanie Powers) as she heads onstage to get poisoned, "We'll be dead soon."

"Three Days (of Hamlet)." No MPAA rating. Running time: 1 hour, 23 minutes. At Landmark's Regent Westwood.


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