I Hate Hamlet

I Hate Hamlet is a comedy-drama written in 1991 by Paul Rudnick.

I Hate Hamlet
Written byPaul Rudnick
CharactersAndrew Rally
John Barrymore
Lillian Troy
Felicia Dantine
Deirdre McDavey
Gary Peter Lefkowitz
Date premieredApril 8, 1991 (1991-04-08)
Place premieredWalter Kerr Theatre
New York City
Original languageEnglish
SettingNew York City


Set in John Barrymore's old apartment in New York City – at the time, the author's real-life home – the play follows successful television actor Andrew Rally as he struggles with taking on the dream role of Hamlet, dealing with a girlfriend who is keeping a firm grip on her chastity, and playing host to the ghost of John Barrymore, who, clothed as Hamlet, has come back to earth for the sole purpose of convincing Rally to play the part.[1] Real estate agent Felicia Dantine convinces Rally to stay in the apartment and hold a seance.

Barrymore proves to be very convincing (challenging Andrew to a sword fight in the middle of the New York loft), and Andrew decides to play Hamlet. But when a Hollywood friend shows up offering Andrew a new role in a television pilot, with a potentially large salary and fame, Andrew is forced to choose between Shakespeare, whom his girlfriend loves, or television, where he is loved by millions.[1]


Published by Dramatists Play Service, Inc., the play was originally produced on Broadway in the Walter Kerr Theatre, opening on April 8, 1991.[2] The lead role of Andrew Rally was played by Evan Handler. The cast of the show includes three women and three men.


Nicol Williamson, who played the role of John Barrymore in the initial Broadway production, was notoriously mercurial, and gradually alienated most of his fellow cast and crewmembers. This animosity culminated in an injury to co-star Evan Handler during an onstage sword fight. Handler subsequently left the production. Paul Rudnick later detailed the deterioration of his relationship with Williamson in a 2008 article for the New Yorker.[3]


Primary sources

  • Rudnick, Paul. I Hate Hamlet. New York: Dramatists Play Service, Inc., 1992. (Hard Copy of Play)
  • Rudnick, Paul. Personal History, "I Hit Hamlet," The New Yorker, December 24, 2007, p. 82


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