Hip-hop's been taking existing works and weaving them into new shapes and sounds since DJ Kool Herc extended breaks at South Bronx park jams. Expect a similar energy in Revenge of a King, a Black Theatre Troupe/BlackPoet Ventures co-production that puts a hip-hop spin on Big Willie Shakespeare's Hamlet.
The play is less a swagger-jacking of the classic Shakespearean drama than a complete re-imagining of the tragic tale of revenge, treachery, and madness. In this production, the key figures led by aspiring rapper Prince Hamlet, a.k.a. Hamilton King, who is from a politically powerful family are transported from Denmark to Brooklyn, where things get spun into turmoil by the father's untimely death and the mother's rebound marriage. Revenge is also pumped up with original music, freestyle rap battles, and slick dance choreography that saw the production through a successful run in the 2006 New York International Fringe Festival.