Kevin Smith: Silent, But Deadly (Extended Edition) – Brian Volk-Weiss & Gil Cunha

Brian Volk-Weiss & Gil Cunha - Kevin Smith: Silent, But Deadly (Extended Edition)  artwork

Kevin Smith: Silent, But Deadly (Extended Edition)

Brian Volk-Weiss & Gil Cunha

Genre: Comedy

Price: $ 6.99

Rental Price: $ 0.99

Release Date: May 11, 2018


All New Extended Edition! Kevin Smith, the filmmaker/podcaster/comedian known for playing the character Silent Bob is anything but quiet in this new comedy special that was recorded an hour before his widely reported massive heart attack in February. But before he nearly died backstage, he killed onstage discussing his marriage, his kid, his friends and his work (or lack thereof). Settle in for an hour of laughs from a man who knows how to tell great and historical stories.

© © 2018 The Nacelle Company LLC

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Cupcakes, Trinkets, and Other Deadly Magic – Meghan Ciana Doidge

Meghan Ciana Doidge - Cupcakes, Trinkets, and Other Deadly Magic  artwork

Cupcakes, Trinkets, and Other Deadly Magic

Meghan Ciana Doidge

Genre: Fantasy

Publish Date: June 18, 2013

Publisher: Old Man in the CrossWalk Productions

Seller: Meghan Ciana Doidge


If you’d asked me a week ago, I would have told you that the best cupcakes were dark chocolate with chocolate cream cheese icing, that dancing in a crowd of magic wielders — the Adept —  was better than sex, and that my life was peaceful and uneventful. Just the way I liked it. That’s what twenty-three years in the magical backwater of Vancouver will get you — a completely skewed sense of reality. Because when the dead werewolves started showing up, it all unraveled … except for the cupcake part. That’s a universal truth. ———————————— This 68,000 word urban fantasy is the first book of the Dowser Series by author Meghan Ciana Doidge. 

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Love Me Deadly – Alycia Linwood

Alycia Linwood - Love Me Deadly  artwork

Love Me Deadly

Alycia Linwood

Genre: Paranormal

Publish Date: July 30, 2016

Publisher: Alycia Linwood

Seller: Draft2Digital, LLC


Destiny’s world is anything but ordinary, only she doesn’t know it yet. Some of her memories are missing, and the handsome and intriguing Nataniel whose attention she has caught is more than just a bartender. After she suffers a fatal accident, Destiny is turned into a vampire by none the other than the sexy, arrogant, and infuriating famous supermodel Enrique, who expects her to be at his beck and call. Forced to abandon her dreams and plans, she has to learn to feed on humans and navigate the supernatural world. As if that isn’t hard enough, she and Nataniel find themselves on opposing sides. But when a party goes wrong, Destiny wakes up surrounded by corpses with no idea as to how that happened, and Enrique refuses to help. Her only hope to find and stop the killer before more people die lies with Nataniel… if she’s willing to risk trusting him. Mature content and language. Not suitable for younger readers. The first book in the Deadly Destiny series. Reading order: LOVE ME DEADLY (Book 1) KILL ME LOVINGLY (Book 2 KISS ME FATALLY (Book 3)

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Have Yourself a Deadly Little Christmas (A Greatest Hits Mysteries Holiday Short Story) – Leslie Langtry

Leslie Langtry - Have Yourself a Deadly Little Christmas (A Greatest Hits Mysteries Holiday Short Story)  artwork

Have Yourself a Deadly Little Christmas (A Greatest Hits Mysteries Holiday Short Story)

Greatest Hits Mysteries, no. 8

Leslie Langtry

Genre: Fiction & Literature

Publish Date: April 27, 2015

Publisher: Gemma Halliday

Seller: Smashwords


From USA Today Bestselling author, Leslie Langtry comes a holiday short story featuring the Bombay Family of Assassins: It’s Christmas Eve, and huddled around the fireplace with pet Dodo in her lap, Missi Bombay tells the story about the time she and her cousins, Gin, Liv, Paris, and Cy carried out a holiday assignment on the family’s private island—Agatha Christie style. There are no Christmas stockings for the wicked. All five of the nasty targets are on Santa’s naughty list, and this year the only present they’re getting is murder. One-by-one they start dying off under mysterious and often hilarious circumstances as everyone wonders—Who Will Be Next? **This is an approximately 18,000 word/37 page short story.** Greatest Hits Mysteries available: 'Scuse Me While I Kill This Guy – book #1 Guns Will Keep Us Together – book #2 Stand By Your Hitman – book #3 I Shot You Babe – book #4 Paradise by the Rifles Sights – book #5 Snuff the Magic Dragon – book #6 My Heroes Have Always Been Hitmen – book #7 Have Yourself a Deadly Little Christmas – a holiday short story What critics are saying: "Darkly funny and wildly over the top, this mystery answers the burning question, 'Do assassin skills and Girl Scout merit badges mix…' one truly original and wacky novel!" ~ RT BOOKreviews "Those who like dark humor will enjoy a look into the deadliest female assassin and PTA mom's life." ~ Parkersburg News "Mixing a deadly sense of humor and plenty of sexy sizzle, Leslie Langtry creates a brilliantly original, laughter-rich mix of contemporary romance and suspense." ~ Chicago Tribune "The beleaguered soccer mom assassin concept is a winner, and Langtry gets the fun started from page one with a myriad of clever details." ~ Publisher's Weekly "Irreverent, witty and fun…a wild, adventurous ride!" ~ Katie MacAlister, New York Times Bestselling Author "The fast-paced romantic suspense chick lit thriller is over the top, but fans will want to follow suit as Leslie Langtry provides a satirical family drama." ~ Midwest Book Review

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The Walking Dead Midseason Finale Reveals a Shocking Deadly Twist

The Walking DeadWell we did not see this one coming.
When we predicted who might bite the bullet in tonight’s midseason finale of The Walking Dead, Carl (Chandler Riggs) wasn’t even on our list….


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Taylor Swift, Niall Horan & More Show Support For NYC After Deadly Terror Attack

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A Deadly Perversion: Her cock owns your soul!

The undead and devilishly sexy, Morgan Bailey, teases and torments pervy undertaker, Will Havoc, as revenge for his sick behavior. This wickedly sexy Halloween special includes hot cock on her cock rubbing, hard fucking, messy cock sucking, ass licking and two huge loads of cum which Morgan insists both get cleaned up and swallowed down.
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A Deadly Perversion: Her cock owns your soul!

The undead and devilishly sexy, Morgan Bailey, teases and torments pervy undertaker, Will Havoc, as revenge for his sick behavior. This wickedly sexy Halloween special includes hot cock on her cock rubbing, hard fucking, messy cock sucking, ass licking and two huge loads of cum which Morgan insists both get cleaned up and swallowed down.
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A Deadly Perversion: Her cock owns your soul!

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A Deadly Perversion: Her cock owns your soul!

The undead and devilishly sexy, Morgan Bailey, teases and torments pervy undertaker, Will Havoc, as revenge for his sick behavior. This wickedly sexy Halloween special includes hot cock on her cock rubbing, hard fucking, messy cock sucking, ass licking and two huge loads of cum which Morgan insists both get cleaned up and swallowed down.
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A Deadly Perversion: Her cock owns your soul!

The undead and devilishly sexy, Morgan Bailey, teases and torments pervy undertaker, Will Havoc, as revenge for his sick behavior. This wickedly sexy Halloween special includes hot cock on her cock rubbing, hard fucking, messy cock sucking, ass licking and two huge loads of cum which Morgan insists both get cleaned up and swallowed down.
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How to Get Away with Murder & Scandal Both Got Deadly, But There’s So Much More to Discuss

Scandal

Oh hey, Papa Pope!

Olivia’s dear old dad is back from prison, because he clearly can’t be contained by walls and bars like a normal man.

First, he…


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Deadly Wands – Brent Reilly

Brent Reilly - Deadly Wands  artwork

Deadly Wands

Brent Reilly

Genre: Fiction & Literature

Publish Date: September 3, 2011

Publisher: Brent Reilly

Seller: Smashwords


This action-packed epic fantasy tells the remarkable adventures of an orphan boy with incredible powers who grows up in the Dark Ages during a brutal world war fought with non-magical wands that shoot fireballs and enable flight, resulting in massive air battles. Mature content makes it unsuitable for little kids. It's more Game of Thrones than Harry Potter.

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A Different Kind of Deadly – Nicole Martinsen

Nicole Martinsen - A Different Kind of Deadly  artwork

A Different Kind of Deadly

Nicole Martinsen

Genre: Fantasy

Publish Date: July 10, 2015

Publisher: Nicole Martinsen

Seller: Smashwords


I was born to Nethermount, an underground city situated deep beneath the Howling Desert, heir to House Thanos, one of six infamous Houses that have the nerve to call this place home. Recently, my mother gave me an ultimatum, which now leaves me in a rather precarious situation. My name is Marvin. I suffer from acute necrophobia. And I have thirty days to become a necromancer, or else I am very, VERY undead.

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Deadly Aim – Patricia H. Rushford

Patricia H. Rushford - Deadly Aim  artwork

Deadly Aim

Patricia H. Rushford

Genre: Fiction & Literature

Publish Date: February 1, 2004

Publisher: Revell

Seller: Baker Book House Company


Patricia Rushford kicks off a thrilling new crime series set in the cozy coastal hamlet of Sunset Cove, Oregon. Featuring determined police officer Angel Delaney, the first episode is sure to have armchair sleuths turning the pages as fast as they can to discover whodunit? When a police shootout results in the death of a 12-year-old boy, Officer Angel Delaney is blamed, convicted, and condemned by the media and the Sunset Cove community before the case even goes to trial.  Angel will have her day in court, but before she has the chance to defend herself, the situation spirals out of control. Key evidence is missing, evidence that could have verified her claim of firing only one shot in self-defense. In short order, the body count rises, and suddenly Angel is a suspect in more than one murder investigation. Heartsick about the young boy's death, and questioning her judgment as a police officer, Angel joins forces with Detective Callen Riley to fight the mounting charges against her.

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Cupcakes, Trinkets, and Other Deadly Magic – Meghan Ciana Doidge

Meghan Ciana Doidge - Cupcakes, Trinkets, and Other Deadly Magic  artwork

Cupcakes, Trinkets, and Other Deadly Magic

Meghan Ciana Doidge

Genre: Fantasy

Publish Date: June 18, 2013

Publisher: Old Man in the CrossWalk Productions

Seller: Meghan Ciana Doidge


If you’d asked me a week ago, I would have told you that the best cupcakes were dark chocolate with chocolate cream cheese icing, that dancing in a crowd of magic wielders — the Adept —  was better than sex, and that my life was peaceful and uneventful. Just the way I liked it. That’s what twenty-three years in the magical backwater of Vancouver will get you — a completely skewed sense of reality. Because when the dead werewolves started showing up, it all unraveled … except for the cupcake part. That’s a universal truth. ———————————— This 68,000 word urban fantasy is the first book of the Dowser Series by author Meghan Ciana Doidge. 

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Deadly Winter – EP – Everose


Deadly Winter – EP
Everose

Release Date:
July 28, 2015
Total Songs:
5

Genre:
Pop

Price:
$ 4.95

Copyright
℗ 2015 Savory Records


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Deadly Crossing – R.E. McDermott

R.E. McDermott - Deadly Crossing  artwork

Deadly Crossing

R.E. McDermott

Genre: Action & Adventure

Publish Date: May 11, 2015

Publisher: R.E. McDermott

Seller: Draft2Digital, LLC


A phone call. A common enough event, sometimes welcome, sometimes annoying, but seldom life changing. Or so we assume. But assumptions are dangerous things, and the reality is we all live one phone call away from disaster. One cheerful ring away from news of a tragic accident. One muted buzz from learning a lifetime of memories have disappeared in a raging house fire. And so it is for Tom Dugan, rolling though the London night, the woman he loves in the taxi beside him. Life is good by any measure — until his phone rings, alerting him to the arrival of two old Russian friends with a very big problem. Dugan’s attempts to help his friends rescue an innocent girl from the Russian mob plunge him into a world he’d scarcely imagined, endangering him and everyone he holds dear. A world of modern day slavery and unspeakable cruelty, from which no one will escape, unless Dugan can weather a Deadly Crossing. 

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Bryan Safi On Being Part Of ‘Surreal’ Project ‘A Deadly Adoption’

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Tracy Morgan Mingles With Fans During New York City Outing, Shows Improvement Following Deadly Crash

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The Good Soldier: Jack Noble Early Years Bundle (Noble Beginnings & A Deadly Distance) – L.T. Ryan

L.T. Ryan - The Good Soldier: Jack Noble Early Years Bundle (Noble Beginnings & A Deadly Distance)  artwork

The Good Soldier: Jack Noble Early Years Bundle (Noble Beginnings & A Deadly Distance)

L.T. Ryan

Genre: Action & Adventure

Publish Date: March 15, 2014

Publisher: Liquid Mind Media

Seller: Liquid Mind Media


From USA Today Bestselling Author L.T. Ryan – Jack Noble Books 1 & 2 in a special limited time bundle! NOBLE BEGINNINGS (JACK NOBLE #1) – Over 300 5-Star Reviews! In March of 2002, while the eyes of the world focused on Afghanistan, Jack Noble finds himself on the outskirts of Baghdad, Iraq. A Marine in name only, Jack is on-loan to the CIA. Normally an integral part of the team, he finds that he is nothing more than a security detail in Iraq. Jack and his partner Bear have a run-in with four CIA special agents over the treatment of an Iraqi family. Within hours Jack and Bear are detained. All Jack wanted was to finish his enlistment and move on with his life. All he did was intervene and save a family from unwarranted violence at the hands of four CIA agents. But he soon discovers that he did far more than intervene. He has placed himself dead square in the middle of a conspiracy that reaches the highest levels of the U.S. government. This Jack Noble political thriller is not for the faint of heart! A DEADLY DISTANCE (JACK NOBLE #2) – Over 175 5-Star Reviews! Washington, D.C. Midday. A man waits at a bus stop, his intentions unknown. Two government operatives have been stalking him for days, waiting for him to make his move. Unexpectedly, the man takes off running and heads for a deserted warehouse. Jack Noble and his partner, Frank Skinner, believe the man to be part of a terrorist organization that is involved in smuggling drugs and guns and men into the country. But it turns out their plan involves far more export than import, and hits a lot closer to home. As the case in this explosive action thriller unfolds, the man behind it all reaches out to Jack with a simple message… 37 hours.

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A Deadly Tan

Like most people, Deborah Shemesh never thought skin cancer could kill. Now, after 14 years of surgery and treatment, she’s beginning to wonder.
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Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 2 Finale Is More Deadly Than Everyone Realizes

In an Inhumans vs. S.H.I.E.L.D. war, nobody wins.

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. ended season two with a bang tonight, airing its two-hour finale that had more death and destruction…


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Theater: Matthew Morrison Finds A Hit In “Finding Neverland;” Peter Sarsgaard’s Deadly “Hamlet”

FINDING NEVERLAND ** 1/2 out of ****
HAMLET no stars out of ****

FINDING NEVERLAND ** 1/2 out of ****
LUNT-FONTANNE THEATRE

I have high standards when it comes to Peter Pan for two reasons. First, the book by J.M. Barrie improves on his play and is a witty, heartbreaking masterpiece. You enjoy it as a child; you savor its bittersweet truths as an adult. If you haven’t read it (or not since you were ten) and do so now, you’re in for a treat. Second, one of my favorite theatrical experiences was the Mabou Mines adaptation called Peter and Wendy, which featured one actor interacting with puppets that captured the magic and wisdom of the book brilliantly. (At the same time, it made me appreciate the charm and unique appeal of puppetry like never before.) The Disney animated film? Thin stuff with cheap animation, mostly terrible songs and a dumbed-down approach to the story. The recent live TV event? Oy. So tread carefully when it comes to Peter Pan.

Despite a quietly charming performance by Johnny Depp, I wasn’t a big fan of the feature film Finding Neverland, which tells the story of how Barrie was creatively inspired by a widow and her sons while helping them deal with tragedy. It was too tear-jerking for my tastes. But just as Barrie’s book improved on his play, this musical improves on the film. It’s more cheerful, more imaginative and basically more fun. Of course, it marks Harvey Weinstein’s foray into the theater world. He’s backed brilliant, ground-breaking films, as well as turned a lot of middlebrow fare into big commercial hits. His success here is surely of the latter sort, but if it means he returns and backs more daring work in the future, all the better.

Do you know the story? It’s captured succinctly in the musical’s tagline: How Peter Became Pan. (There alone Weinstein has raised the marketing bar on Broadway. Not since Cats came up with “Now And Forever” has a show’s one-line marketing slogan been so effective; I’ll bet every show down the road works hard to come up with their own distinctive tag.)

Barrie (Matthew Morrison of Glee) is an unhappily married man. His wife is pretty but seems utterly uninterested in her husband or his work; as long as they’re in high societyand he doesn’t embarrass her with his eccentric ways, she will be placated, but nothing more. His American producer Charles Frohman (Kelsey Grammer) just wants Barrie to keep churning out more shows like the ones he’s done before. But Barrie knows he’s in a rut. His new comedy is a rehash of material he’s done better in the past. So Barrie retreats to Kensington Gardens and is struck…not by imagination, but by the fierce play of a troupe of wild boys, who have momentarily lost their mother and are having fun as pirates. They’re alive, silly, engaged, and happy — everything the dour Scotsman Barrie is not at the moment. Almost reluctantly, he’s drawn into their adventures, but before you know it Barrie is “argh-ing” with the best of them.

Their mother is the charming Sylvia Llewelyn Davies (Laura Michelle Kelly, an Olivier winner for Mary Poppins). She apologizes for her rambunctious lads. But there’s a sad charm about her and even more sadness surrounding the one boy who doesn’t join in the fun. That’s her son Peter (Aidan Gemme). This Peter doesn’t refuse to grow up; since the death of their father, he’s growing up too fast, sinking into depression and stubbornly incapable of playing or smiling or having fun. What’s the point?

Barrie sees himself in the boy, naturally. He returns to the park again and again, hoping and then expecting and then planning to meet and enjoy the company of this broken but spirited family. His wife is confused. Her mother Mrs. Du Maurier (Carolee Carmello) is worried about propriety and the strain on Sylvia’s health, who is rather frail. Society begins to wag its tongue over such an unconventional friendship. But Barrie is having fun, the boys and especially Peter are clearly benefitting from his presence and the germ of an idea is forming for a work unlike anything he’s done before. It will have pirates and fairies and NeverNever Land and maybe a boy who won’t grow up….

Director Diane Paulus directs this amiable tale briskly and with precision. Still there’s no denying that the songs by Gary Barlow & Eliot Kenndy flit from your memory almost before they’re over. A few numbers stick, such as the act one closer “Stronger” and the act two highlight “Play,” which shows the actors working on Barrie’s new show letting out their inner child via nursery rhymes and nonsensical behavior. But they’re memorable more for the staging of those numbers and the energetic choreography of Mia Michaels rather than the songs themselves. “Stronger” ends with a pirate ship materializing before our eyes and “Play” is silly fun in a pub and they work — despite an inordinate number of lyrics with lazy “off rhymes” that trip you up while listening. “Stronger” does have an excellent melody, it must be said. The cast delivers them with gusto and Kelly almost makes her solo spotlight “All That Matters” feel grand. But again, it’s the performance not the song that registers.

And for all the drama, this is a fairly conflict-free story, courtesy of the book by James Graham. Yes, Barrie’s marriage to Mary (Teal Wicks) ends, but since it seems an unsuccessful one when the show begins, that’s neither here nor there. He’s had a flop and needs a hit but, while his producer and the actors grumble, they are ready to see what Barrie comes up with next. The looming possibility of a love affair with a widow is barely addressed; their romance is of the chaste variety (despite one kiss) and you don’t need to see the movie to know it’s not a good sign when Sylvia is repeatedly tired and seeing doctors.

So it’s a credit to the appealing cast and creative team that the evening moves along with amiable verve. All the tech elements are solid, starting with the scenic design by Scott Pask and the costumes by Suttirat Anne Larlarb. Sometimes sets and costumes shouldn’t call attention to themselves and that’s the case here, where stately homes, London streets, pubs and backstage at a theater are all evoked effectively and without fuss. (The exception is that act one closer with the ship, which pulls out the stops and helps the show reach a visual peak lacking in the story.)

Kelly is effortless as the kind-hearted Sylvia; her charm and sweetness anchors the show and makes the friendship between a widow and a married man one we never question. But like the show itself, there’s no friction: they are friends and don’t really seem to long for more. It’s telling that the most engaging scenes are the ones with Sylvia and her mother or Barrie and his manager. Carmello keeps the starchiness in Du Maurier understandably, ably aided by Graham’s canny first scene between mother and daughter that establishes their love and the mother’s sense of humor. And Grammer is having great fun in dual roles as the manager and Captain Hook, here seen as Barrie’s id and urging him on to kiss the girl already.

Morrison has always had a certain emotional reserve for me. It worked well as the straight arrow hero in the revival of South Pacific, as a seemingly clueless but kind Italian in The Light In The Piazza and it works well here for the tamped down Barrie, with Morrison indicating the Scottish origin of our hero with a modest but effective burr. After many years of performing on Broadway or celebrating the theater on TV, he’s finally got the lead role ni a hit new musical. The ensemble as a whole delivers their secondary comic bits with broad appeal. (This is a family friendly show, if a dead parent isn’t too problematic for the very young.)

The four boys as a group are appealing; their big number “We’re All Made Of Stars” is another winner, though again I hasten to add it’s because of the staging by Paulus and their performances, not the forgettable song itself. However, Gemme is a modestly weak link as Peter. We get so spoiled by excellent child acting in shows like Matilda and Billy Elliott that it’s easy to forget how hard these roles can be. Gemme is fine in the straightforward scenes of a depressed lad who thinks “playing” is silly now that his dad has died. But he has two big dramatic scenes and falls notably short on both of them. In the first he’s gesticulating wildly to indicate passion; in the second towards the end he was desperately reaching for a breakdown, repeatedly squinting his eyes shut apparently in an attempt to gin up a tear or two. Paulus molded the cast well, but here failed her young charge. He should dial back the histrionics dramatically; the audience is so primed to feel empathy for Peter that Gemme’s work is mostly done for him already.

So with weak songs and a mild book, why is Finding Neverland clicking with audiences? (It’s been a significant draw from day one.) I think perhaps the very lack of high drama is a plus. It’s a happy show with a sad heart and that’s actually an appealing combination. Peter Pan can easily be performed as schmaltz or just a tale for kiddies. But there’s a dark center to it that is the reason for the story’s enduring appeal.

When we catch glimpses of the show Barrie has created, of course we get the moment where Tinkerbell is fading and Peter urges the audience to clap if they believe in fairies and want Tink to live. This time, it takes place in the Llewlyn Davies home, with a clearly ailing Sylvia propped up in bed since she was too weak to attend the premiere. The entire cast has come to give a command performance and so it’s this frail woman who joins in on the clapping for Tinkerbell. The audience I saw it with clapped immediately without any need of prompting; they were ready, of course. I was struck for a moment by how often that scene has been repeated in theaters around the world since the play debuted in 1904. It’s touching, really:millions and millions of people have clapped because they believe in fairies, clapped to celebrate make believe. But really they’re clapping to stave off death. If only it were that simple.

HAMLET no stars out of ****
CLASSIC STAGE COMPANY

Who were the first people to climb Mt. Everest? Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay, of course. But did you know they succeeded because of earlier attempts that broke paths and left caches of oxygen? Who were the next group of people to conquer it? Only mountaineering fanatics can answer that. So if you want to be remembered for conquering a mountain, you better be first or you better do something memorable, like being the first woman or so on. Most mountains aren’t even conquered on the first attempt by the ones who succeed; they have to make a climb just to get an idea of what they’re up against. One other, awful way to fame is to fail spectacularly, like the 1996 expedition that resulted in the deaths of eight climbers and was immortalized in Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air.

Shakespeare’s Hamlet is of course a mighty peak to conquer for actors. Perhaps only Lear offers a similarly forbidding challenge. Your first Hamlet needn’t be your defining one and surely many middle-aged or elderly actors believe that only after being too old to actually play the role did they really feel ready to do the part justice.

Peter Sarsgaard is a very good actor with the requisite intelligence needed for the part. His Hamlet and this entire production directed by Austin Pendleton does not conquer the play. Far from it. Indeed, it is memorable for all the wrong reasons, a cascading disaster with almost every actor stumbling or forgetting their lines at one point or another on the performance I attended. By the end of the night, actors were dropping props, kicking swords towards the “bodies” of dead characters (making us fear for their safety) and looking relieved it was all over at the curtain call. Classic Stage Company is the home of some of my happiest theater memories in recent years. This one will endure too, unfortunately. One wonders if perhaps it would have been kindest when realizing they weren’t even off book as opening night approached to step in and pull the plug on the entire affair.

The one saving element is the look of the show. They’ve gone for a modern dress, Festen sort of vibe here, setting the entire piece at a wedding reception. This doesn’t really inform their take on the play, which is thoroughly traditional. This is not a high concept spin on Hamlet that goes for some crazy vision and falls flat, more’s the pity. It simply doesn’t work from start to finish.

But it looks good: scenic designer Walt Spangler has a handsome white floor with elegant metal trimming along the edge. Two bars are located at the back towards each exit and actors sometimes linger there before heading off or wait there and have a shot before coming on. (Who can blame them?) It’s a conceit with no thought behind it; if there’s some dramatic sense to when and how people linger and leave, I missed it. That floor lights up beautifully during the performance of the play within the play, another effective touch. And the costumes of Constance Hoffman set the tone right (though, oddly, I disliked the shoes of Hamlet and his mother and found them distracting). The lighting was…fuzzy at the start; somehow Justin Townsend managed to make the set seem out of focus before the show began. It was a nicely subtle way to keep you a little uncertain though it also proved symbolic of the show. The original music and sound design of Ryan Rumery of Scapesound was fine, though some of the background noises felt vague and indeterminate, undoubtedly reflecting the lack of sense in the entire work.

But that’s about it for kind thoughts. The cast is filled with solid actors who have all done better work before and will again and thank goodness for that. On the positive side, the always dependable Stephen Spinella was the best of a poor lot as Polonius, though I couldn’t grasp his take on this character from scene to scene. (In the famous “neither a borrower nor a lender be” speech he’s intelligent and sincere; later he’s buffoonish and then savvy again.) But he was clear and present and the language made sense when he spoke it (something almost no one else managed). And when he forgot his lines, no one handled it with more aplomb. Scott Parkinson scored capably in several roles (especially the Player Queen) and Jim Broaddus, also fine in several parts, handled the Player King with precision.

Glenn Fitzgerald was a welcome presence on stage (I haven’t seen him in ages) as Laertes, though when the character returned late in the play he’d been affected by the disease of confusion that had spread through the show. The talented Penelope Allen was elocuting with determined high drama as if she’d wandered in from an RSC production, while everyone else was speaking more colloquially. The usually excellent Harris Yulin was mumbling the role of Claudius. As a couple, they seemed so innocuous and frail even after we discover he really did kill Hamlet’s father that you wonder why the Prince doesn’t just put them in a home.

In numerous roles including Guildenstern, Daniel Morgan Shelley invariably looked annoyed at whomever he was sharing the scene with. He looked annoyed at Hamlet, annoyed at Rosencrantz, annoyed at Claudius and annoyed at everyone else. Perhaps he was just annoyed at being trapped in this production. Lisa Joyce as Ophelia was her own unique disaster; I’ve always found Ophelia’s mad scenes abrupt and very tricky to pull off and this wasn’t the production to make that work.

Hamlet is in a hell and surely the talented Peter Sarsgaard is feeling that way as well. The Dane famously dithers and that can cover a lot of hesitation. But Sarsgaard spent the entire night struggling for his lines; when he remembered them he pounced and poured them out in a rush, so glad that they were available to him. He didn’t actually call out “line” but one was constantly under the strain of expecting him to do so. Under such circumstances, at best the actor survives; he certainly doesn’t put his stamp on the role.

Not being off book is a theatrical sin; what can excuse it? But if blame must be placed, it will be shared by all the actors yet fall most squarely on Sarsgaard and the director Austin Pendleton. Pendleton has enjoyed great success as an actor and director. Not here. The show is filled with curious directorial touches, like the way actors wander on and off the set, lingering at those bars. (I wanted to join them.) Again and again he has actors sit and observe the action, rarely to any purpose or effect. It works when the Player King lingers, but mostly you are distracted during monologues by the unnecessary and unrevealing presence of a character. Early on, Joyce as Ophelia must sit in the back and look concerned and worried in eighteen different ways, pursing her brow, clutching her hands and so on.

But why is she present during “To be or not to be..?” Why does she lie down and feign sleep when Hamlet utters the lines “to sleep, perchance to dream?” Why does the gravedigger hang out and clutch the skull of poor Yorick during the final bloody scene? And why the choice after Polonius is mortally stabbed to have him walk across the stage and exit at a slow and stately pace? Worse, why does he pop back in during the massacre at the end? The dead Polonius doesn’t look censorious or angry or sad or even pay much attention to the numerous deaths taking place. He just walks across the stage, as if on an errand.

Even the last moment is botched, with poor Sarsgaard caught awkwardly between slumping to the floor and sitting back on his seat after being poisoned to death. He’s neither here nor there physically and it must have been fiendishly uncomfortable speaking his lines while a poor edit of the show’s ending stumbled to its conclusion. He abruptly sat up, letting us know the show was blessedly over. I wouldn’t bet money on who was happier, the audience or the cast.

THEATER OF 2015

Honeymoon In Vegas **
The Woodsman ***
Constellations ** 1/2
Taylor Mac’s A 24 Decade History Of Popular Music 1930s-1950s ** 1/2
Let The Right One In **
Da no rating
A Month In The Country ** 1/2
Parade in Concert at Lincoln Center ** 1/2
Hamilton at the Public ***
The World Of Extreme Happiness ** 1/2
Broadway By The Year 1915-1940 **
Verite * 1/2
Fabulous! *
The Mystery Of Love & Sex **
An Octoroon at Polonsky Shakespeare Center *** 1/2
Fish In The Dark *
The Audience ***
Josephine And I ***
Posterity * 1/2
The Hunchback Of Notre Dame **
Lonesome Traveler **
On The Twentieth Century ***
Radio City Music Hall’s New York Spring Spectacular ** 1/2
The Heidi Chronicles *
The Tallest Tree In The Forest * 1/2
Broadway By The Year: 1941-1965 ***
Twelfth Night by Bedlam ***
What You Will by Bedlam *** 1/2
Wolf Hall Parts I and II ** 1/2
Skylight ***
Nellie McKay at 54 Below ***
Ludic Proxy ** 1/2
It Shoulda Been You **
Finding Neverland ** 1/2
Hamlet w Peter Sarsgaard at CSC no stars

_____________

Thanks for reading. Michael Giltz is the founder and CEO of the forthcoming website BookFilter, a book lover’s best friend. Trying to decide what to read next? Head to BookFilter! Need a smart and easy gift? Head to BookFilter? Wondering what new titles came out this week in your favorite categories, like cookbooks and mystery and more? Head to BookFilter! It’s a website that lets you browse for books online the way you do in a physical bookstore, provides comprehensive info on new releases every week in every category and offers passionate personal recommendations every step of the way. It’s like a fall book preview or holiday gift guide — but every week in every category. He’s also the cohost of Showbiz Sandbox, a weekly pop culture podcast that reveals the industry take on entertainment news of the day and features top journalists and opinion makers as guests. It’s available for free on iTunes. Visit Michael Giltz at his website and his daily blog. Download his podcast of celebrity interviews and his radio show, also called Popsurfing and also available for free on iTunes.

Note: Michael Giltz is provided with free tickets to shows with the understanding that he will be writing a review. All productions are in New York City unless otherwise indicated.

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