I Hate Hamlet is a dramatic comedy written in 1991 by Paul Rudnick. Set in John Barrymore's old apartment in New York City - at the time, the author's real-life home - the play follows successful television actor Andrew Rally as he struggles with taking on the dream role of Hamlet, dealing with a girlfriend who is keeping a firm grip on her chastity, and playing host to the ghost of John Barrymore, who, clothed as Hamlet, has come back to earth for the sole purpose of convincing Rally to play the part.
Barrymore proves to be very convincing (challenging Andrew to a sword fight in the middle of the New York loft), and Andrew decides to play Hamlet. But when a Hollywood friend shows up offering Andrew a new role in a television pilot, with a potentially large salary and fame, Andrew is forced to choose between Shakespeare, whom his girlfriend loves, or television, where he is loved by millions. Plus, Andrew's performance as Hamlet is somewhat less than satisfactory.
Published by Dramatists Play Service, Inc., the play was originally produced on Broadway in the Walter Kerr Theatre, opening on April 8, 1991. The lead role of Andrew Rally was played by Evan Handler. The cast of the show includes three women and three men.
Nicol Williamson, who played the role of John Barrymore in the initial Broadway production, was notoriously mercurial, and gradually alienated most of his fellow cast and crewmembers. This animosity culminated in an injury to co-star Evan Handler during an onstage sword fight. Handler subsequently left the production.
Paul Rudnick later detailed the deterioration of his relationship with Williamson in a 2008 article for the New Yorker.