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.
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.
“…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.”
- The Guardian
Gertrude, A Queen.....Pamela J. 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
Ensemble: Joelle Mendoza Etchart, Aashna Aggarwal, Jake Schwartzwald
Director: Richard Romagnoli
Stage Manager: Eric Conner Marlin
Assistant Stage Manager: Kate Kuhle
Assistants to the Director: Joelle Mendoza Etchart, Jake Schwartzwald
Lighting: Hallie Zieselman
Set: Mark Evancho
Costumes: Danielle Nieves
Sound: Cormac Bluestone
"Radical... A provoking epic that explores politics, sexuality and power."
- The New York Times
"Electric and scalpel-sharp, blackly witty and quite funny... A superb cast of PTP/NYC veterans."
- Time Out New York
"Dark and disarmingly funny... Richard Romagnoli's smart direction makes Barker's thematically complex play accessible and entertaining. The actors effectively bring out the searing comedy hidden in Barker's dark words. Gray plays Gertrude with an elegant ferocity, reveling in the ecstasy of instinct... This production offers tremendous rewards."
"Shocking. Intense. As usual, PTP/NYC’s cast and casting is stellar. The company has some of the most expressive, multi-dimensional, powerful actors in the city. Pamela J. Gray is bold, fearless and stunning... After seeing the incredibly entertaining Gertrude—The Cry, it is likely you will never again see Hamlet in the same light. Director Richard Romagnoli has once again taken a Howard Barker play and delivered it exactly as it was meant to be."
- Theater Pizzazz
"Provocative. Stunning. I guarantee you will never see Hamlet’s Gertrude the same way ever again."
- New York Theater Review
"Strong performances and solid directing… all come through with flying colors. Fascinating."
- Talkin’ Broadway
"Pamela J. Gray is both ravishing and haughty."
"A real psycho-sexual masterpiece."
- Electronic Link Journal
The setting is an abandoned church in a Eastern European country. A 13th-century fresco has just been unearthed --if it proves to predate the works of Giotto, it could explode accepted notions about European art. Without warning, a group of armed refugees barricade themselves inside the church, leading to a shocking conclusion.
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.
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.”
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 Rose Whitlock
Assistant Stage Manager: Kat Rother
Assistant to the Director: Aashna Aggarwal
Lighting: Hallie Zieselman
Set: Mark Evancho
Costumes: Adrienne Carlile
(original design, Jule Emerson)
Sound: Aubrey Dube
"The final moments of the play are as stimulating to the senses as the first parts are stimulating to the mind. Equally engaging to the mind and the senses."
- Theatre Is Easy
"Deeply compelling. As always — the Potomac Theatre Project has provided an excellent production of a work of provocative ideas."
- Talkin’ Broadway
"Astonishing! Rich in ideas and brought to life with eloquence by PTP/NYC, Pentecost’s exploration of the intersection between national identity and violence very much reflect the time it was written while remaining relevant for the present uncertain age."
- nytheater now