Patrick Cathcart has the leading role of Andrew in “I Hate Hamlet,” now at Allens Lane Theatre through May 20.

by Rita Charleston

Andrew Rally seems to have it all: celebrity and acclaim from his starring role in a hit television series, a beautiful girlfriend, a devoted agent, the perfect New York apartment once inhabited by legendary actor John Barrymore and a chance to play “Hamlet.” However, there are a couple of glitches in Andrew’s seemingly perfect life, including an offer to do a new TV series and make lots of money or accept the chance to play Hamlet in the prestigious Shakespeare in Central Park festival. However, in reality Andrew has no desire to play Hamlet. In fact, the truth is he really, really HATES Hamlet.

But after a séance orchestrated by his agent, the ghost of Barrymore himself, who needs Andrew to accept the part and fulfill his actor’s destiny, enters the action. Andrew, who wrestles with the offer to star in a new series or find a way to build his confidence to play Hamlet, is the story behind Paul Rudnick’s 1991 play, ”I Hate Hamlet,” presented at Allens Lane Theatre through May 20.

Directed by Mariangela Saavedra, Wilmington, Delaware, native Patrick Cathcart takes on the lead role of Andrew, a character Cathcart says he can easily identify with. “Andrew is an actor who is having many self-doubts, and I’ve definitely been in that position myself. As an actor I’ll sometimes come across a role and wonder if I really have the ability to do it. I might even lose sleep over it until I put the required work into it and suddenly find it begins to fit.”

Cathcart, 35, says he put a lot of hard work into his craft before he saw it was really going to fit. As a student at St. Marks High School in Wilmington, he appeared in several plays and fell in love with the whole process of acting but was never quite sure this was the path he should take as a career. And then the day hit when he decided he just wouldn’t be happy doing anything else. He eventually joined the players at Hedgerow Theatre near Media and studied there for about two years. He says, “Hedgerow was where I got my formal training. Those were my college years. During my time there I did every job I could to learn everything possible about the theater. It was great experience for any actor.”

And when he discovered there were more opportunities and more community theaters here than in Delaware, he decided to take advantage of that fact, spending a large amount of time in our area theaters. “And after doing a heavy drama like ‘Claybourne Park’ recently, it’s nice to now be doing a comedy,” Cathcart explains. “I love being able to make people laugh. For a change of pace, I did want to do a comedy, although I prefer doing dramatic roles.

“Facing the most challenges and the most meat when doing a role are the kinds of things that help make you a better actor, but don’t get me wrong. I don’t think comedy has any less quality than drama, so it’s a pleasure to be able to have this connection with the audience and at the end of the night watch as they leave the theater a little happier than when they walked in.”

Today, Cathcart is thrilled he made the decisions he did and now gets to spend the bulk of his time on stage, although when he’s not acting, he works as a server and a bartender in the Wilmington area. “I have a true passion for the theater,” he says. “I have a tremendous amount of certainty in my life because now I know what I want to do. I love the craft, working with other actors, smelling the sawdust, watching the art. What a wonderful, amazing and satisfying thing I get to do.”

Allens Lane is located at 601 W. Allens Lane in Mt. Airy. For ticket information, call 215-248-0546.