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Fat Ham


Public Theater / New York / Stage

Playwright James Ijames uses Shakespeare’s Hamlet as the basis for his newest show. Like the Melancholy Dane, Juicy is confronted by his father’s ghost, who orders Juicy to avenge his death. However, here Juicy is a queer Black Southern boy, not the Prince of Denmark, and he has to read Shakespeare’s masterpiece to find out how the story ends. The play is set at a family barbecue, where Juicy (played by Marcel Spears) is torn between his duty as a son and his desire to break a cycle of violence. As Ijames recently told The New York Times, this transposition of Hamlet is “really about how [Juicy] brings the rest of his family with him to that realization that they don’t have to continue these cycles.” Plus, it’s “a comedy in the end, so I take Hamlet and I essentially make it not tragic anymore.” Three days before the show debuted Off Broadway, Fat Ham was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. —J.D.

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