'Fat Ham' puts a contemporary spin on Shakespeare's classic 'Hamlet'

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Fat Ham is the Wilma Theater's very contemporary take on Shakespeare's classic Hamlet; set in the American South

"James Ijames, who wrote the play, was curious about what happens if we introduced the queer narrative into Hamlet and make it a Black family," says actor Lindsay Smiling.

Hamlet, in this production, is named Juicy but, for anyone who's ever seen the Shakespeare version, the plot line is very familiar. Juicy's father is killed by his uncle who then marries his mother. Juicy is haunted by his father's ghost asking for revenge.

"There's a cycle of violence that keeps happening throughout the generations," Smiling explains.

"Do I go on and keep doing my father's done? My father's father's done? Or do I break the cycle?," questions actor Brennen S. Malone, who plays the role of Juicy.

The Fat Ham title is a play on the name Hamlet and a nod to the family's livelihood.

"They own a restaurant where a lot of the dishes that they have are pork and ham," Malone says.

Smiling plays the roles of both Pap and Rev, Juicy's father and uncle.

"My characters represent this kind of toxic masculinity," Smiling says.

And Juicy is struggling with his sense of self and his sexuality.

"He's trying to figure out where he fits in, in this world and his family," Malone says.

The digital production was shot on location in Virginia and explores the friction between traditional values and acceptance of self.

"It's just simply 'be yourself,'" Malone says of the play's message, "just choose pleasure over harm."

"Knowing that you have a choice in how you define yourself as a man in your sexuality," Smiling adds.

The Wilma Theater |Tickets
April 29-May 23, 2021
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