“My Brooklyn Hamlet”
Actors like to make big noise about getting inside their character’s heads and “living” their roles, but few could come close to Brenda Adelman’s connection to Shakespeare’s most clouded character, Hamlet. Adelman’s father actually murdered her mother, and after he got out of prison, he turned around and married her mother’s sister. Let’s face it; any time you find yourself actually living one of Shakespeare’s tragedies, you’re pretty much the runaway favorite in any “whose life sucks worse” contest you enter.
The point of Adelman’s one-woman show, though, is not just the events that led to her mother’s demise but the act of forgiveness it took for her to heal from her past and move on in life. “My Brooklyn Hamlet” details that journey with heart, humor and warmth, and it connected deeply with its audience at the Celebration Theatre.
The fact that her skill as a performer was not quite equal to the impact of her story is of little consequence. (Transitions between her multitudes of characters were a bit rushed and forced in this presentation.) The prerequisite for a good autobiographical show is simply that you have an interesting story to tell, and there’s no contesting the fact that Adelman’s is awfully unique but ultimately compelling and uplifting. Finding it in your heart to forgive your mother’s murderer takes a strength that few people could muster. Having that murderer turn out to be your own beloved father would reduce most people to much less than what Brenda Adelman has become.