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Four hours of ‘Hamlet’ will be 60-minute performance Jan. 20 at Monmouth College

Barry McNamara

Area residents can see a lot of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet in a short amount of time on Jan. 20.

Chicago actor Tim Mooney will bring Breakneck Hamlet to Monmouth for a 7:30 p.m. performance on Jan. 20 at Wells Theater. The one-actor production will distill what’s normally a four-hour play into a 60-minute production.

Free and open to the public, Mooney’s performance is co-sponsored by the College’s Public Affairs Committee and the Department of Theatre. While on campus, Mooney will also work with Monmouth theatre students.

Mooney has “recklessly sliced” Breakneck Hamlet from Shakespeare’s original. His “breakneck” performance reveals Hamlet as “a thrilling chameleon, with an immense intellectual capacity and a hilarious, wicked sense of humor,” rather than the usual “melancholy Dane.”

“I was inspired to bring substance and passion to the soliloquies and great speeches, while bridging the gaps of the ongoing action with a playful, snarky commentary that I can’t quite resist,” Mooney said. “The intent is to add by subtraction. By removing a dozen actors and three hours of melancholy, we surface the power that the original Elizabethan audience must have felt. We are suddenly more aware of a delicate and dangerous political battle, between two equally powerful – and equally aware – players fighting over who gets to be king.”

Monmouth theatre professor Doug Rankin said Mooney not only will present a fascinating interpretation of the Shakespeare classic, but he also will provide valuable guidance to the College’s theatre students.

“Tim Mooney has made multiple appearances at Monmouth College over the years,” Rankin said. “He is a classical theatre scholar and has provided our students with workshops and exposure to many types of theatre. On this visit, he will give our students a seminar on how to audition using monologues. We look forward to working with him again.”

Mooney’s skill at turning rhetorical complexity into theatrical power gets its greatest test with Hamlet. He has published his adaptation of the play, along with a facing-page concordance including research and acting notes, as The Breakneck Hamlet Companion.

A veteran of more than 50 fringe festivals, Mooney has spent the past 15 years touring U.S. colleges and high schools with hit one-man shows. Breakneck Hamlet is his eighth one-man play, following Moliere than Thou, Lot o’ Shakespeare (one monologue from each of Shakespeare’s plays) and The Greatest Speech of All Time (historical speeches ranging from Socrates through Martin Luther King Jr.)

Mooney is also the adaptor of 17 of Molière’s plays and is the author of the acting textbook Acting at the Speed of Life: Conquering Theatrical Style.

More on Tim Mooney and Breakneck Hamlet can be found at A two-minute video race-through of the play can be viewed at