Lost lambs on a hero’s journey | East Villager & Lower East Sider

Lost lambs on a hero’s journey

Andy Belanger’s artwork puts a muscular spin on Shakespeare’s most iconic characters.  ARTWORK BY ANDY BELANGER
Andy Belanger’s artwork puts a muscular spin on Shakespeare’s most iconic characters. ARTWORK BY ANDY BELANGER

BY SCOTT STIFFLER   |  If Shakespeare were around in the 1960s, his mighty pen and massive stable of players might have found a suitable home in the comic book pages — where, like the best Marvel and DC superheroes, their origin stories and epic adventures could be told by the master, then adapted by future generations eager to put their own stamp on classic plotlines and elegantly drawn, psychologically complex characters.

What if Romeo and Juliet didn’t die, but didn’t know the other one was alive? What if Hamlet went on a revenge quest that made his ghostly father’s assignment seem comparatively devoid of intrigue — and what if a violent, pissed-off cadre of Shakespeare’s most ruthless baddies went gunning for their creator? Surely that’s something worth seeing in full, rather than reading the Cliff Notes version.

Alternate universe scenario geeks, come prepared to drool — when, for five nights only, Gideon Productions presents the stage adaption of Anthony Del Col and Conor McCreery’s “Kill Shakespeare.” Part radio play and part comic book, the graphic novel is brought to life with the help of live music and Foley effects, and accompanied by larger-than-life projections of Andy Belanger’s bloody, muscular comic book panels.

Drawing from thematic and narrative elements familiar to fans of “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen,” “Lord of the Rings,” “The Wizard of Oz” and the Bible, this tale assembles an all-star team of heroes (Hamlet, Juliet, Othello, Falstaff, Romeo and Puck) to do battle with a group of villains (Richard III, Lady Macbeth and Iago) on an epic quest to defeat a reclusive wizard (William Shakespeare, as he lives and breathes).

Along the way, we get some very pulpy twists that lay waste to much of what we think we know when the curtain comes down on Shakespeare’s major works. As a result, many of the Bard’s most iconic characters must reassess which side they’re on, and how much control they have over determining their own fate.

ARTWORK BY ANDY BELANGER
ARTWORK BY ANDY BELANGER

Beyond the epic scope, the beautiful artwork and the imaginative pairings (Hamlet and Juliet have a thing going on), “Kill Shakespeare” finds its greatest strength in how it casts the titular character. Everyone, it seems, has major daddy issues with that God-like figure — who turns out to be very human in his flaws, yet immortal in his ability to cast a long shadow over all he’s created.

THEATER
KILL SHAKESPEARE
A Gideon Productions presentation
Based on the graphic novel by Anthony Del Col & Conor McCreery
Directed by Jordana Williams
March 1-5, 7pm
At HERE (145 Sixth Ave., enter on Dominick St.)
Tickets: $15
Call 212-352-3101 or visit here.org
Also visit killshakespeare.com