adaptations breakneck hamlet

Tim Mooney's Breakneck Hamlet: No Pause, New Hamlet

Thursday, May 21, 2015 Cora

Tim Mooney’s world debut of Breakneck Hamlet at the Clockwise Theatre in Waukegan May 29th promises to be a night free of “indulgent brooding”. Mooney’s Hamlet “fights like hell” throughout this skillfully sliced one hour version of the Shakespearean classic.

Mooney is a one-man show veteran bringing to audiences of all ages and backgrounds Moliere Than Thou and Lot o’ Shakespeare among other works and transforming towering tombs into accessible enchantments and inspirations. Literary buffs, newbies, and the literary scarred have all enjoyed his work. Adapting classic writers may bring to mind The Reduced Shakespeare Company. While they both joke about Shakespeare, their intents and approaches are different. “I feel they do it for the silliness of it all,” Mooney said. “I do it to reveal something about Shakespeare.”

He used Shakespeare’s history plays as an example. He did an entire play where he performs all the histories in chronological order in an hour. “They apply a football metaphor to them. If you didn’t know about Shakespeare’s histories going in, you’re not going to know about them going out,” he explains. “People were excited about the plays and have a grasp on them. If they attended one, they would know what’s going on.”
Tim Mooney. Picture by Brian K McConkey. Mooney loves Shakespeare’s language and world it can create within itself. “Every word is chosen down to the exact syllable, the exact vowel, the exact purpose. The more I give myself over to the process of speaking, I feel the power of the themes, the character,” he said. “Through the course of revising, I learn more about things I had no clue about when I first read it.” Streamlining Hamlet was arduous, but also a labor of love and respect for the work and the audience. A lot of thought and care went into deciding how to make this work most accessible. Mooney started with Hamlet’s soliloquies.

 “Hamlet’s a challenging character to understand. If I started on the soliloquies I would know the closest impression of what he’s really thinking,” Mooney explained. “He’s not pretending or acting. He’s talking to himself or the audience. We can have some sense of what he’s actually thinking.” He added they’re also some of the most popular speeches so he wanted to make sure to include all of them. Next he added Hamlet’s other major speeches to other characters for instance the players. Then he went act by act deciding what information the audience needed to understand and appreciate those speeches. He wrote some narrative to lead up to a soliloquy or a paragraph or scene to explain why something was being mentioned later on.

After eleven months of work, he is even more in love with the play. On the same night after a brief intermission, Mooney will also perform Shakespeare On Demand, performing a piece from any Shakespeare play the audience requests. For more information about the show and tickets, visit

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