Welcome to the twilight zone world of Kevin Brewer – live on stage, on screen and off stage in his fascinating technology enhanced play The One Man (Two Man (not quite) ) Hamlet which has just opened at the Here Arts Center and is produced by the New York Shakespeare Exchange. Before you scream “Not another Hamlet!” read on.
Kevin Brewer has written himself a complex and compelling part – actually three parts or if you are a stickler for detail a few others thrown in for good measure. He is K an actor in final rehearsal mode, preparing for the next day’s opening production of a two character Hamlet with fellow actor V, who appears on a video screen – apparently in a nearby room looking very much like K. Indeed it is, but not really. Let me go back.
The house lights go down. We see on stage a smaller version of the curtain which has just opened. That curtain opens. A video screen with “play” appears. It does and this weird and wild journey begins. It is the opening scene of Hamlet. V is on screen. K enters on stage. It’s surreal. I was mesmerized. This goes on until K goes blank. And there’s the rub. He knows the play but is never able to get through it in its entirety. Something is blocking his memory of the lines.
Within the time frame of 80 minutes Kevin Brewer will surprise and astonish you with his dexterity and excellent acting ability and his on screen persona as his doppelganger V. He is always in the moment. Parts of Hamlet are performed: with a Danish accent, a speed through reading of his first soliloquy, V as both Claudius and Gertrude, and an hysterical recap of the plot leading up to “What a piece of work is man”.
What a piece of art is this show which has been keenly directed by Ross Williams and developed at the 3LD Art & Technology Center. Especially when K and V go in search of each other, exchange locations and then appear up on screen together. The timing is incredibly slick as Mr. Brewer seeks help for his memory loss problem, speaks with, argues with and finally connects with what it is that he is really seeking.
He is a man full of self doubt, looking for a purpose to life. Something that he can do that will make him memorable. The oft told advice that you should pursue your dreams and just go that tiny bit further to accomplish them has been repeated so many times before but not quite in such a unique and memorable way. Go see this show. It will make you think about your own goals and you will be intrigued and awed along the amazing, comic and sincere journey that Kevin Brewer takes you on.
Photo: Ernie Kapanke