Gertrude — The Cry OFF-BROADWAY REVIEWS

Photo: Stan Barouh
  • Gertrude - The Cry
  • NY TIMES

  • TM

  • TALKIN' BWAY

  • NEW YORK THEATRE REVIEW

Opening Night:
July 8, 2014
Closing:
August 10, 2014

Theater: Atlantic Stage Two / 330 West 16th St., New York, New York, 10011

Synopsis: 

Gertrude — The Cry is Howard Barker's startling and revealing response to Hamlet. Gertrude swells with a passion that counters all morality. In this new world of Elsinore, Barker defends Hamlet's reviled mother and her adulterous affair with Claudius, depicting them as lovers driven beyond reason.

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  • NEW YORK TIMES REVIEW OF Gertrude — The Cry

    Oh, Mama! That Queen of Denmark Takes Over ‘Gertrude: The Cry,’ a ‘Hamlet’ Rewrite, at Atlantic Stage 2

    Alexis Soloski

    July 17, 2014: Hamlet is indecisive. His mother, however, is a lot more resolute. In the first scene of Howard Barker’s Gertrude: The Cry, being revived by PTP/NYC at Atlantic Stage 2, she orders Claudius to “kill my husband.” Then she strips naked and demands sex from him astride her husband’s corpse. Gertrude, a radical rewrite of Hamlet, is the 10th work by Mr. Barker that PTP/NYC has staged. A British playwright with an uncompromising and often violent aesthetic, Mr. Barker writes provoking epics that explore politics, sexuality and power. In this 2002 work, he’s used Hamlet as a rough template, discarding much of the plot and most of the secondary characters, while inventing his own. Pamela J. Gray’s Gertrude is joined not only by Claudius (a fervent Robert Emmet Lunney) and a moralizing Hamlet (a nicely priggish David Barlow), but also by a mother-in-law (Kathryn Kates), a loyal servant (Alex Draper) and a dashing, panty-sniffing suitor (Bill Army). There’s also an infant daughter, played quite unconvincingly by a bundle of cloth.

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  • THEATERMANIA REVIEW OF Gertrude — The Cry

    Potomac Theatre Project examines the ecstasy of agony in Howard Barker's Hamlet spin-off.

    Pete Hempstead

    July 16, 2014: Howard Barker's dark and disarmingly funny riff on Hamlet, Gertrude — The Cry takes the moral world of Shakespeare's play and turns it on its head. In a compelling two and a half hours, Gertrude portrays the Dane's mother not as the guilt-ridden queen of Shakespeare's play but as a sexually voracious, society-defying mastermind behind her husband's murder. First produced in London in 2002, Gertrude is now receiving its U.S. premiere at Atlantic Stage 2 in an inspired production for Potomac Theatre Project. As in Hamlet, the play is set in Elsinore Castle and its environs, but the time has shifted to the present. Smoke fills the air, and Mark Evancho's set of gray-stone masonry creates a modern Gothic atmosphere that looks like it's just waiting for someone to die. It doesn't take long for that to happen. In the first eye-popping scene, Gertrude (a statuesque Pamela J. Gray) and Claudius (Robert Emmet Lunney) come upon the sleeping king of Denmark (Gertrude's husband and Claudius' brother). Claudius orders Gertrude to remove her clothing — "Let me see why I am killing" — then pours poison into the king's ear. Seeing her dying husband, naked Gertrude utters a primal cry that is part nauseous wretch and part orgasm, and that drives Claudius mad with desire. As the king expires, Gertrude and Claudius copulate above the corpse.

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  • TALKIN' BROADWAY REVIEW OF Gertrude — The Cry

    Gertrude: The Cry Theatre Review

    Howard Miller

    July 16, 2014: Gertrude – The Cry, Howard Barker’s 2002 cerebral/visceral take on Shakespeare’s Hamlet, opens with an eye-searing bang — in both the metaphoric and the colloquially crude meaning of the term — in the Potomac Theatre Project’s heady production at Atlantic Stage 2. At its center of it all is Gertrude, Hamlet’s mother (Pamela J. Gray, giving a truly — if I may mix genders here — ballsy performance), complicit in the murder of her husband (among others), lover of her brother-in-law (among others), and gifted with a siren’s allure as well as a siren’s song, that “cry” of sexual ecstasy to which the title refers. It’s enough to make Lady Macbeth blush. Barker, who calls his playwriting style “theatre of catastrophe,” is terribly interested in the juxtaposition of violence, death, and the lust for power — all of which are on ample display here. The plot is secondary to the psychological probing of characters set free of the superego, where powerful people give free rein to their desires.

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  • NEW YORK THEATRE REVIEW REVIEW OF Gertrude — The Cry

    Gertrude – The Cry by PTP/NYC

    Aaron Grunfeld

    July 15, 2014: In this play's opening scene, Gertrude and her lover kill the king of Denmark (her husband, his brother—but you guessed that), and then they have sex over the body. It’s not coy stage-sex either, just some dry-humping; this is full-frontal nudity and a loud, fingers-in-mouth orgasm. That sound haunts the rest of Howard Barker’s masterpiece of transgression—a cry that does and undoes the men of the Danish court. Barker tears the revenge tragedy down to its fundamentals and rebuilds from there. He reassigns roles, renames characters, and alters events, striking at the authority of Shakespeare like a guerrilla fighter. In this radical adaptation, the Queen is a primal force, the embodiment of desire, while her son Hamlet is a ranting prig who crosses her influence with misogyny, propriety, and the law. Barker’s attack has a barbaric streak that should be great fun. So it’s ironic and unfortunate that Richard Romangnoli directs such a fine, smart production. There’s plenty of talent and skill on display, but little fire or danger. Individual performances may be stunning—Alex Draper and Meghan Leathers especially, and David Barlow as Hamlet—but their cumulative effect is muted by the considered tone.

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