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Alas, poor Yorick, we must call the coroner

By JIM BUTLER

Eagle Staff Writer

Will Hamlet take arms against a sea of trouble or just take a siesta? That is the question in Carol Conlee’s “CSI: Bandera.”

Mistress of 7F Lodge, Conlee refuses to let Shakespeare rest in peace. Her latest basting of the bard represents a comedic confluence of contemporary culture with the classics.

“I’d been saving ‘Hamlet’ for our fifth season,” Conlee said. “And when I noticed that the main character on ‘CSI: Miami’ was named Horatio (played by David Caruso on the CBS hit drama), it just seemed perfect. Since there are seven deaths in the play, I figured someone would be asking a lot of questions in today’s world.”

The setting is Bandera, a scenic city in southwest Texas. The owner of King Ranch — KRKR — radio is found dead just before the broadcast of “Hill Country Companion.” Sheriff Horatio tells Hamlet, the owner’s son, that his father’s ghost has been seen roaming around the orchard.

Meanwhile, the owner’s brother, Claudius, takes control of KRKR, the last independently owned radio station in Texas, which makes him an attractive husband for the now widowed Gertrude, Hamlet’s mother.

Hamlet writes a song for traveling singers to perform that points an accusing finger at Claudius, who decides Hamlet must die. Then come assorted duels and drugged Pearl beer to provide plenty of crime scenes to be investigated.

The cast consists of Derek Teetes as Hamlet, Doug Sweet as Claudius, Ricki Holliman as Gertrude, Craig Conlee as Horatio, Jill Center as Ophelia, Charles Boatwright as Polonius, Doug Sinclair as Laertes, Carol Conlee as Rosencrantz, Kelly Robbins as Roadie, Dillard Higgins as Sound, Douglas Brooks as the Ghost and Dallas Kennedy as the gravedigger.

“I’ve only watched a couple of episodes of ‘CSI,’ and I couldn’t figure out if they were dark comedies or serious dramas. If the characters and scripts were played with a slight shift, they would be over-the-top dark comedies, sort of like ‘Six Feet Under,’” Conlee said.

Conlee’s first spoof was “Shakespeare in the Dark,” a takeoff on “Othello” in which the ghost of Pancho Villa was conjured up by mistake. That was followed by “Shakespeare on the Rocks” (inspired by “The Tempest”), “William & Mary’s Wedding,” “Shakespeare’s Viagra” (based on the poet’s sonnets) and “Roman Scandals,” a satire of “Antony and Cleopatra” set in a cosmetics empire.

Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday. Tickets are $35 and include dinner and drinks. Reservations are required by calling 690-0073. 7F Lodge is at 16611 Royder Road, south of Wellborn off Greens Prairie Trail in College Station.

• Jim Butler’s e-mail address is jbutler@theeagle.com.

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