Saturday, April 15, 2023

67. FAT HAM (seen April 14, 2023)


Fat Ham, James Ijames’s Pulitzer Prize-winning, racially offbeat takeoff on Hamlet, which opened last May at the Public Theatre to a chorus of raves, including—for the most part—mine, has moved to Broadway, where it’s been greeted by yet another string of critical huzzahs. Presented Off Broadway in the three-quarters round, it’s now been reconfigured for a Broadway proscenium stage; otherwise, everything else (including the outstanding cast) remains intact. 

Seeing it for a second time, however, left me less impressed. The dramatic structure struck me as clumsier than I remembered, seeming more a series of set pieces than a well-developed plot. More significant, it took far longer than it should have for me to so much as chuckle at the often farcical monkeyshines. Some of the raucously ebullient performances, which had barely managed to teeter on the right side of overkill at the Public, seemed too insistently loud and exaggerated the second time around. 

While many around me—including a lady who found every syllable hysterical—laughed their heads off, I sat like an Easter Island statue in a sea of joyous natives. Or maybe I’d shouted happily too often at Shuck’s shenanigans two nights earlier, when I should have saved some laughs to share with Fat Ham. Hopefully, my humor reflexes will be back in shape for Peter Pan Goes Wrong

These things aside, my original review for Theater Pizzazz, which you can read here, should offer a good idea of what everybody else is so enthusiastic about.

Fat Ham

American Airlines Theatre

227 W. 42nd St., NYC

Through June 24