GERTRUDE: THE CRY is Howard Barker’s startling and revealing response to Hamlet.
This entirely new story exposes the sexual nature of the crime at the heart of Shakespeare’s play. Powerful poetic language, provocative ideas and rich, dark humor build a compelling and erotic study of the sexuality and secrecy that seethe below the surface of Hamlet. Gertrude swells with a passion that counters all morality. The play explores a favorite Barker theme – the lust for individuation – for freedom from the oppression of licensed behavior. In this new world of Elsinore, Howard Barker defends Hamlet’s reviled mother and her adulterous affair with Claudius, depicting them as lovers driven beyond reason.
The play had its world premiere in 2002, directed by the author, in the great hall of Elsinore Castle, Denmark as part of the annual international Hamlet Festival.
Gertrude, A Queen…..Pamela Gray
Claudius, A Prince…..Robert Emmet Lunney
Cascan, Servant to Gertrude…..Alex Draper
Hamlet, An Heir…..David Barlow
Isola, Mother of Claudius…..Kathryn Kates
Ragusa, A Young Woman…..Meghan Leathers
Albert, A Duke of Mecklenberg…..Bill Army
“…there is something magnificently shameless about Barker as a writer – just as there is about Gertrude as a woman. In the end he offers us the same choice as Gertrude: plunging over the cliff of ecstasy or dying quietly in a stinking bed in a stinking hospital. We would all choose what she chooses.”
PENTECOST was first produced at The Other Place, Stratford-Upon-Avon, in October 1994. The play is set in an abandoned church in an unnamed Eastern European country shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall. A 13th-century fresco has just been discovered by a young curator from the country’s national museum. If proved to predate the works of Giotto, as suspected, the work could explode accepted notions about European art. In Act 1, the authenticity of the fresco is passionately debated in a prolonged and provocative discussion that ranges from the fallacy of cultural relativism to the increasing disillusionment of Eastern European society in the post-Soviet order.
Then, without warning, a group of armed and desperate refugees barricade themselves inside the church, taking hostage the Western art experts inside. The refugees range in ethnicity from Palestinian to Kurd to Bosnian and the second act details increasingly tense negotiation and argumentation, leading to a shocking and visceral conclusion.
Leo Katz…..Alex Draper
Oliver Davenport…..Jonathan Tindle
Gabriella Pecs…..Tosca Giustini
Father Sergei Bojovic…..Larry Nathanson
Father Petr Karolyi…..Christo Grabowski
Mikhail Czaba…..Matthew Ball
Anna Jedlicova…..Nina Silver
Toni Newsome…..Chelsea Melone
Jake Schwartzwald, Chelsea Melone, Caitlin Duffy, Nick Hemerling, Erica Furgiuele
Director: Cheryl Faraone
Stage Manager: Evangeline Whitlock
Assistant Stage Manager: Kat Rother
Assistant to the Director: Aashna Aggarwal
In a review titled “A Masterwork in any Language,” Paul Taylor, the critic of The Independent, wrote of the play’s first production:
“With great wit and empathy, Edgar uses the fresco, its questionable status and the competing ethnic, national and religious interest-groups who flock round it, as a piquant vantage point from which to look at the ironies and agonies of post-Communist Eastern Europe and at conflicting attitudes towards art.”