Exit Hamlet, Enter the Unseen Artist
Prince Hamlet, son of King Hamlet and nephew to Usurper Claudius, is the popular protagonist of Shakespeare’s longest tragedy, Hamlet. This is the role that Let Me Hamlet’s main character has been after for the last twelve years. Yet despite his consistency and work ethic, he gets stuck with Horatio, who everyone only knows as Hamlet’s friend. Horatio is there for all the most important moments in the play, from the opening to the ever-famous “to be or not to be” soliloquy, and all the way to the tragic ending. Yet he remains unseen both by his fellow characters and by audience members who can barely recall his name, even though his story is also worth telling. This is the point that Koo Park attempts to make in his solo show, Let Me Hamlet, except the story is bigger than Horatio (once again) and reflects the unseen artist’s struggle.
Whether in visual, performative, or written arts, every artist goes through a period of anonymity in their careers, being secondary to others’ success while waiting for their big break. Some remain in the same place for twelve years, some decide to pursue different paths, and some make it, but all understand the struggle that Park so eloquently portrays. This is a play for the forgotten artist, who struggles in silence and is unseen until someone decides to shine a light on them.
Park, who is both the writer and protagonist of Let Me Hamlet, is passionate and human in his performance. He’s easy to connect with and relate to as an audience member. The lack of a fourth wall also helps us see him as an equal who shares our struggles.
Throughout the play, the main character recites Hamlet’s famous speech as he auditions for the role repeatedly. Park is precise and intentional each time and delivers each iteration of the speech with distinct voices to fully portray his character’s progress and state of mind, at the same time showcasing a surprising acting range.
On par with his performance, Park’s script is poignant and incredibly fluid in its transitions and overall movement. It has good use of silence and shouted lines as it ranges through very different emotions and gives us a glimpse into the main character’s internal monologue and lived experiences. It truly felt like the script showed everything it needed to, without being overly long while also keeping the audience engaged.
It would be ideal to include a slight content warning for strong themes and emotional turmoil but other than that this play was a true joy to experience. I recommend you follow Koo Park’s journey if this play was anything to go by.
Only twenty-five minutes long, Let Me Hamlet is a short and powerful monologue that ran from March 11th to 12th at Taproot Theatre. Hopefully, there will be more performances in the future for more people to enjoy Park’s artistry.
More on Koo Park: KooPark