The 2005 Commonwealth Hamlet Continues to Haunt Me

I have seen Commonwealth Shakespeare in Park on Boston Common for many years now. I have seen their Midsummer, As You Like It, Comedy of Errors, Much Ado, Macbeth, Shrew, and Othello. I want to say I may have even seen them do a Tempest, a long time ago. But there’s one that I missed.

It’s 2005. They’re doing Hamlet. To the best of my knowledge they’ve not done Lear, so I try to explain to those close to me that this is, like, *it*. The big one. The must see. My wife and I have arranged to meet up with friends for dinner at a nice nearby restaurant (Number 9 Park, if you know the area) for the last weekend of the performance. When the day arrives? Torrential rains are in the forecast. I am not missing Hamlet. We head into town, and the rain begins. We’re not even sure our friends will make it in. It is a few hours before showtime, and I am using my phone (which, 6 years ago, was no iPhone let me tell you!) to keep trying the CommShakes homepage to see whether the show has been cancelled, and I see no notice. I call the number, but only ever get an answering machine. It is *nasty* outside. Raining cats and dogs. There is no way there is a show tonight.

But…15 minutes before showtime? The rain stops. Sun comes out. Hurray! I rush over to where the show is to be – empty, of course, except for some stage hands tending to the flooded sets. “I’m here!” I say, “Start the show! The rain’s stopped!”

They looked at me like I was insane. Perhaps, at that moment, I was. My wife (our friends had bailed) led me away as carefully as she might have led a mental patient while I just repeated “But….it stopped raining. Hamlet. It’s not raining anymore…..”

Thus did I miss my chance to see Hamlet in the park. But hey, I’m not bitter! I’ve seen their Comedy of Errors, and that’s just as good, right? Right?? 🙂 I have never again waited until the last weekend to see a show. I’ve even gone so far (the Midsummer year) to see the show once myself first, and then see it again with friends.

My point in rehashing that story is to link to what’s become of their Hamlet, Jeffrey Donovan. He’s now the star of the television series “Burn Notice”, and is coming back into town for a staged reading of a play called “Burn This”, something I don’t really know anything about.

Check out these quotes from the article, which I’m sure was written just to taunt me…

“That was, to this day, one of the greatest experiences of my life,’’ Donovan says. “To not only be given one of the most cherished and difficult roles in Shakespeare’s canon, but to do it in front of my hometown, basically. . . . It gives me chills even now.’’

Maler says the production was one of the highlights of the company’s history: “Seeing the way the audiences of Boston, and particularly young audiences, would gravitate toward his performance was unlike anything I’ve ever seen.’’

Argh. Why can’t I get *that* on DVD? I get enough David Tennant. Where’s the CommShakes petition?

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