By Patrick Hurley
Heiner Muller’s experimental theater piece Hamletmachine is the basis of Post Mortem Movement Theater’s Hollywood Fringe show I was Hamlet.
The piece, skillfully directed by Angela Lopez, incorporates the postmodernist ideals that Muller used as his jumping off place, and turned them into an immersive experience that will challenge the traditional audience with it’s artistry. The playing space is a room, a mostly empty room. With actors strewn about, preparing for their performances, writhing on the floors, and interacting with the audience, who are left to their own devices, since the room offers no traditional theater seating.
And while the actors occasionally include an audience member, this shouldn’t frighten anyone away from the experience. It’s minimal inclusion, that usually involves a cast member walking you from one place to the next. The piece itself seems to be an exploration of a theatrical chaos theory. There is a continuous stream of activity in all parts of the room. There are digital projections on one wall that don’t necessarily comment on the action of the piece, but become their own entity inside the world that is existing in front of us. And while this is a deterministic system, since the show is happening presumably as planned, all the internal stimuli within the system affects the already determined outcome. Which means that the chaos is not random at all, but a collection of moments that directly affect each other, and us the audience. This is an experimental idea, and one that challenges the audience to go with it, rather than try to create a linear narrative.
This piece, playing upon topical political issues, such as Donald Trump and the current Presidential election, also has something to say. When the actor playing the actor playing Hamlet (Yes, that is confusing) Angel Correa, breaks out of character to go on an anti-consumerism rant, we are caught up in a piece of political theater. Likewise, when he talks to us about Trump, or Clinton, or any other current topic we are seeing a mirror of the chaotic world within the theater. Hamlet said to a group of theater artists “hold as ’twere the mirror up to nature.” and so, as the actor playing the actor playing Hamlet, Mr. Correa holds the mirror up for us to see.
The rest of the cast is exceptional. The physicality involved is sometimes downright exquisite. Stephen Beitler is transfixing as Horatio. Lauren Henning is insanely watchable as the Drowned Ophelia, and Emily Josephine as Ophelia/Elektra gives a hauntingly powerful ending. Angel Correa is outstanding. He exudes tremendous rage and sincerity. It might not be clear to all who watch what he’s saying, or why, but all should agree it is completely compelling.
This piece, at a short fifty-five minutes, is a visceral, challenging, and exciting piece of live theater that truly shows brevity is the soul of wit. It’s an immersive, trippy journey into the mind of a performer, an artist, and a chaotic world. It refuses to see time as something linear, and instead blends stories of feminism, politics, love, and loss into one moment. Where it all happens concurrently. And if you go along with it. You should enjoy the ride.
I was Hamlet
An original adaptation of Heiner Muller’s Hamletmachine
Presented by Post Mortem Movement Theater
Adapted by Kyle Johnston, Angel Correa, Emily Josephine, and Angela Lopez
Directed by Angela Lopez
Playing at Other Space Theater
916 N. Formosa Ave in Hollywood.