Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Hamlet"

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"What Happened in Boston, Willie"

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note: entire contents copyright 2000 by Larry Stark


"Hamlet"

by William Shakespeare
Directed by Deborah Schoenberg

Choreography by Ilyse Robbins
Costume Design by Angela Dugas and Alexandra Hanson
Lighting Design by Craig Brennan
Sound Design by Steven A. Thurber
Fight Choreography by Clifford M. Allen, Companie Scaramouche
Stage Manager Luke Onglis

Claudius, King of Denmark...............................................Arjun Jaikumar
Gertrude, Queen of Denmark .....................................Alexandra Hanson
Hamlet, Prince of Denmark......................................................David Jette
Ghost of King Hamlet....................................................Schyler Bowditch
Polonius..........................................................................Nathaniel Gundy
Ophelia........................................................................Esme von Hoffman
Laertes...........................................................................Anthony Carrigan
Horatio................................................................................Rose Costello
Rosencrantz. .................................................................Matisse Michalski
Guilenstern............................................................................Drew Bucilla
Osric..................................................................................Dylan Gamblin
Reynaldo...............................................................................Kate Seavey
Voltimand....................................................................Shannon Frederick
Marcellus..............................................................................Rachel Horst
Bernardo/First Player......................................................Lauren Staniunas
Fancisco/Player Queen...............................................Emily "Piper" Galen
Priest/Sailor/Player King......................................................Samuel Slavin
Lucianus/Second Gravedigger................................................Lisa Szlovits
First Gravedigger.........................................................Simeon Teitelbaum
Ladies of The Court...............................Angela Dugas, Rebecca Manning
Fortinbras, Prince of Norway......................................Christopher Clinton
English Ambassador................................................................Mary Arida

Teen-agers? Doing "Hamlet"?!?!? Well, actually, four hundred years ago when all women's parts were played instead by boys, Will Shakespeare's own acting company often had their thunder and their audiences stolen by all-boy companies. And for the past five years Deborah Schoenberg's Project Shakespeare has done two of the Bard's plays on the same Herter Park stage used by The Publick Theatre --- with many of the men's parts played by young women. The cry has been not that it's astonishing they can do it at all, but how astonishingly well they do it. And this year, for her last directing assignment before retiring, Schoenberg's "Hamlet" continues to astonish.

Everywhere, her "kids" belie their ages. In fencing, for instance. Fight Choreographer Clifford M. Allen of Company Scaramouche staged an excitingly realistic bout to climax the play, and David Jette (Hamlet), Anthony Carrigan (Laertes) and Dylan Gamblin (Osric) made it more believable than their elders often do.

The company, after all, rehearsed and performed two plays "in rep" --- switching from the comedy of "Much Ado" last week to "Hamlet" this. And players often stand out. As Hamlet, David Jette gushed energy, throwing himself and even other actors about in vengeful madness, and Esme von Hoffman matched him in distracted Ophelia's own descent into insanity. Their unflagging energy is the trademark of this entire company.

The young Nathaniel Gundy's take on old Polonius, for instance, was as an eager bumbler triumphantly pouncing upon any evidence to prove the prince mad for love of his daughter --- just as he flustered when sending Reynaldo (Kate Seavey, here transformed into "a lady of the night") to Paris to spy on his son's loose behavior.

The play, trimmed by Steven A. Thurber, bristled with unexpected details. When Laertes stormed in angry at the murder of his father, it was at the head of a mob shouting "Laertes shall be king!" and it took all the crafty persuasion of Arjun Jaikumar's tall King Claudius to turn his wrath on the young prince. Young Fortinbras (played here by Christopher Clinton) marched in twice, on his way to and then from a battle in Poland. Simeon Teitelbaum and Lisa Szolivits were two quipping gravediggers, not one. And Schyler Bowditch as the Ghost of Hamlet's Father walked in the flesh and not as a disembodied voice.

Again and again, it was not their youth but professionalism that surprised. Alexandra Hanson's Queen Gertrude collapsed in tatters at the force of her son's rages, and reacted every time her husband thought of himself rather than her. And as she came to tell of Ophelia's drowning, a bit of taped music devised by Steven A. Thurber began, and the cadence of the speeches and the movements of the actors so coincided with its spare, percussive tones as to seem choreographed. This was no "kid's Hamlet" but a thoughtful, energetic, exciting re-creation of the play.

Love,
===Anon.


"Hamlet" (21 & 22 August)
PROJECT SHAKESPEARE
The Publick Theatre, Christian A. Herter Park, Soldiers Field Road, BOSTON
1(617) 782-5425

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide

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