by Tracey Paleo~
How do you deal with your father murdering your mother, then marrying your mother’s sister – your aunt – and discover without warning that you are no longer daddy’s little girl. Shakespeare of course!
In a shabby room housed in green carpeting, old, slightly worn furniture, Elizabethan stained-glass windows, a painting or photograph of each of her parents and a whole lot of outrageous memories, playwright and star performer Brenda Adelman, along with director John Coppola, both New York natives, present an almost unbelievable, insanely twisted one-woman, modern ‘Bronx Tale’ filled with happy memories and tragic outcomes in My Brooklyn Hamlet, now playing at Studio C Artists on Theatre Row in Hollywood, CA.
Part family comedy, part Greek tragedy, My Brooklyn Hamlet is Brenda’s very true story about loyalty, sex, obsession, love, betrayal, murder and most of all, the awesome power of forgiveness.
Accompanied by the portentous, mood-setting music of Carmina Burana playing as she enters the stage wearing a symbolically blood-red, farthingaled gown. Corseted, ruffed, purled & partletted, jeweled and filled with the power of words, Ms. Adelman breaks her tale in the bard’s iambic pentameter, which is fully a direct parallel to the doomed Prince of Denmark. It is everything dramatic. She is numbed and scarred. Having been torn and caught in the confusing line of fire throughout her entire life, even sometimes a continent away, between two manipulators who emotionally push her to one extreme level of guilt to another. She must decide in the end how she will find the strength to no longer stay silent, and either act upon her desire for revenge and throw herself fully onto a path that will surely lead to a Hamlet-like destruction or to find compassion and become the heroine of her own life with love and exculpation.
One can only begin at the beginning with this tale and Ms. Adelman takes us, squarely and in typical ‘shoot from the hip’ East Coast style, through the sometimes absurd, sometimes traumatizing events of the comical tragedy, that only a nice Jewish princess growing up in the endowed fortune of her father’s lucrative Brooklyn car business, could relate. She recounts the special and important moments spent with and witness to her mother, a world traveling, obsessive fulfillment seeking, bohemian photo artist (al la Diane Arbus with more of a penchant for S&M – “I wouldn’t be an artist if I didn’t piss off somebody”) and her father, a simple, chain cigar smoking, somewhat cruder, self-made auto industry ‘savant’ with an insatiable need for deception and attention from other women.
Although often shocking, much of it is quite funny actually filled with the characterizations and mimes of her parents’ posturing, tantrums and general milieu of melodrama that envelopes her. Ms. Adelman keeps the dialog raw and surprisingly on the lighter side, given the heaviness of the subject matter which she has actually lived through. It is not a heart-wrenching autobiography but rather an expressive and fascinating recitation. There are a few not-quite-so-well crafted transitions during this performance and a moment or two feel a bit skipped over. However, Ms. Adelman’s style is so refreshingly natural and forthright as a story teller that the chronicle is well paced and moves quickly without any truly awkward pauses.
Profound in it’s outcome. Brenda Adelman is able to wield the mighty power of grace and bestow a kind of clemency that allows her to get past the ugliness and pain of tragedy to a love of herself and most of all both her mother and her father. As in the words her mother would say every evening at her bedtime goodnight, “To Thine Own Self Be True,” Ms. Adelman, finds a way to do what is right for everyone.
My Brooklyn Hamlet is a creatively candid, self-realized composition. It was written by and starring Brenda Adelman, directed by John Coppola and Produced by Michael Sonntag.
My Brooklyn Hamlet, A real-life Shakespearean tragedy in modern day Brooklyn is performed Thursday & Saturday at 8:00 pm through April 28th, 2012
Studio C Artists is located at 6448 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90038, just west of Cahuenga Blvd.
Tickets – General Admission: $22.50