Theatre Review


Home Reviewers






New End Theatre presents

My Brooklyn Hamlet


by Brenda Adelman


Directed by Matthew Hannon


New End Theatre


June 11-27 2010









A review by James Richards for EXTRA! EXTRA!

Brenda Adelman has a unique story – her father, a Brooklyn-born Jew, murdered her bohemian mother and after serving only a few years, left prison and married her aunt, the murdered mother’s sister. At the New End Theatre, Hampstead, Adelman is performing a hour-length monologue My Brooklyn Hamlet based on this tragic story. 

The parallels to Shakespeare’s play are actually a little tenuous. But it’s a conceit which allows Adelman to indulge her life-long love affair with the Bard, while laying publicly a very private ghost. Adelman would probably argue the additional irony that it was her mother who first introduced her to Shakespeare. What results is an interesting mix of touching and funny anecdotes – Adelman personifies her parents and figures from her youth – and, snatches of the Bard’s verse. 

When employed, the verse is effective, but perhaps not in the way that Adelman intended. I felt we learnt more about Prince Hamlet than Adelman when she implores her flesh to ‘Thaw, and resolve itself into a dew’. Perhaps it’s inevitable that a mere mortal’s sentiment would be drowned out by Shakespeare at his zenith of his powers. So – it’s a gamble that doesn’t always pay off. Also, I felt the clearest link to the play– the remarriage of the villain, Claudius or Adelman’s father – was least addressed in the monologue, since Adelman spends a long time talking about her life growing up. 
If the piece is a little over-intentioned, Adelman is clearly an inspired woman, who, it emerges, has learnt to forgive her father his truly despicable act.  She brings the crime of murder closer than we could ever have experienced from the news, in a sustained meditation on the ties that a family can build and then have shattered.

It’s a testament to her personal qualities that Adelman seems so healed. I often found myself doubting that it all happened to ‘that person right there’. Paradoxically, another actor might have been able to play it with more conviction. But I don’t for one minute think this is the point. Forgiveness or lack thereof is one of the great tragedies of the world, Shakespeare or no. So any work that addresses and encourages this little-yet-titanic act has my sincere and whole-hearted backing.

New End Theatre
London NW3 1JD

0870 033 2733

Tickets £14-16





Copyright © EXTRA! EXTRA All rights reserved




Home Reviewers