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Izzard Hamlet New York


Eddie Izzard. Photo by Carol Rosegg.




If performing solo theatre is not for the faint of heart, performing Shakespeare as solo theatre is walking a tightrope without a net over shark-infested waters. It is also clearly Eddie Izzard's sweet spot. When Izzard takes the stage at Greenwich House Theatre, she is an artist in full command. As the lights come up on the austere set, we realize there will be no gimmicks or costume changes just an actor and Shakespeare's text.


Izzard's thoughtful intelligence makes the play shine. In the intimate confines of the theatre, we are allowed a close-up view of an actor who is always present and attuned to the inner lives of the characters she portrays. She gives a nuanced performance that can only come from a deep understanding of the material.


It is an exquisitely subtle and physical performance. Smoothly transitioning from character to character, she gives each their own unique attributes, never yielding to the temptation to go over the top. No gesture is wasted, nor is there any space in the theatre. Izzard, director Selena Cadell and movement director Didi Hopkins have created a physically demanding piece that would be a challenge for any actor as it moves from the stage, throughout the house, up to the balcony and back again. For the audience, there is something thrilling about seeing the work of an actor of this caliber close up.


As you would expect, Izzard brilliantly mines the comedic elements in the show. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern appear as hand puppets without the puppet part. Their appearances, which could come across as schtick on a lesser performer, are some of the show's funniest as Izzard fully commits herself to the moment. Even in the show's funnier moments, there are no false notes. Lines are not played merely for laughs but use humor to illuminate deeper truths while providing a moment of respite as we move towards the play's ultimate tragic end.

The entire creative team has done an excellent job of supporting Izzard. Tom Piper's set, Tyler Elich's lighting, and Eliza Thompson's soundscape help ground us in time and place while providing punctuation for pivotal moments. Costume Stylists Tom Piper and Libby Da Costa have created a military luxe look for Izzard, marrying elements of masculine and feminine that work with the artist as she moves about the space and shifts from character to character. Mark Izzard ably adapted the piece for the stage.


In creating this solo version of Hamlet, Izzard and her creative partners bring alive a story that has deep resonance for a modern audience. The themes of familial turmoil, political upheaval, madness, and revenge will always be with us. We are in the hands of a master as we experience Izzard's interpretation of these themes via Shakespeare's lens.



"Izzard Hamlet New York"

Performed by Eddie Izzard

Adapted by Mark Izzard

Directed by Selena Cadell

January 25- March 16, 2024

Greenwich House Theatre (27 Barrow Street, NYC)

Performances are extended to March 19- April 14 at Orpheum Theater

 


Wendy Lane Bailey has a powerful classic pop voice and a rather cavalier attitude towards the idea of genre. Wendy-Lane’s debut solo recording, Breathing, was produced by composer/arranger/pianist Michele Brourman. Her performances in venues across the country have earned critical praise for versatility and sophistication. She has appeared as a guest artist on multiple recordings, including Leslie Gore’s and Susan Egan’s. She studied at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, HB Studios and the Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center. Off-stage Wendy Lane is a creative advocate for artists. While living in Washington, D.C., she founded a regional networking organization for musicians and for five years, was the Associate Director of the Cabaret Conference at Yale University. She received a 2007 Bistro Award for outstanding achievement and was nominated for a Washington Area Music Association Award. While serving on the board of NJ’s Pioneer productions, she produced, directed, and appeared in several theatre pieces. She is currently developing Hot Coffee, MS, a solo theatre piece with music in collaboration with Michele Brourman & Gretchen Cryer. In 2020, she accepted the position of Assistant Artistic Director of the United Solo Theatre Festival. In addition to her performing work, she teaches and consults privately and in master classes for singers of all genres.









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