A stripped down HAMLET has hit town! Fasten your seat belts–it’s going to be a Shakey night. Head to The Paramount Center and get ready for Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre Boston debut production of the bard’s longest tragedy (4000 lines!), direct from London, and now at warp speed. Hanging onto every syllable, I was left dazzled– and wanting.
Loved the young, high energy Hamlet putting on a play to avenge the death of his father, by his uncle, who has married his mother, who has buried her husband, who has appeared to his son as a ghost– or not. The bodies pile up as the iambic pentameter gains speed. The facility of these actors with the language is dazzling. The surface tensions, humor, and ingenious staging (particularly the “play within a play” scene where the roles are doubled and tripled– as are most of the roles) are played up for maximum accessibility. High School kids would find this useful.
Oddly, what’s missing is real heart, and deep dramatic and psychological tension. Intellectual engagement seemed beside the point– the Globe’s stated intention is to present a raw, lively version of the play, akin to what Elizabethan audiences at Shakespeare’s boisterous Globe Theatre might have experienced. But it feels one dimensional.
Miranda Foster as Gertrude comes closest to reaching into my psyche, and soul as an anguished and confused mother torn between an increasingly out of control son and a sexually exciting husband.
As Hamlet, Michael Benz’s high speed performance was rambunctious, but somewhat mechanical, hardly the embodiment of rationcination described by renowned critic Harold Bloom; when Benz took a split second to wipe a speck from his cheek in the middle of the TO BE OR NOT TO BE soliloquy, I wondered if he was also mentally checking his e-mail.
To see or not to see– that is the question. I say, see what YOU think. The play is endlessly open to interpretation and this is yet one more worthy go. Love to know what you think!
Performances Oct. 9 – 21, 2012 at The Paramount Center Mainstage (559 Washington St. in Boston’s Theatre District). Tickets: www.artsemerson.org or by phone at (617) 824-8400.