Hamlet's first words: “Who’s there?”. The rest of this stunning production answers that initial question. Hamlet is the “mirror of fashion” and most of the other characters reflect some aspect of him.
But who is Hamlet? Hamlet the soldier rants in golden couplets of warlike noise, while Hamlet the scholar unfolds himself through ambivalence and double meanings.
"Something is rotten in the state of Denmark."
Perchance that's the situation in Denmark, but certainly not at The Roselle Center for the Arts. This is the tightest, most concise, fluid, potent and understandable HAMLET Aisle Say has ever witnessed. It is possibly the quickest 2.5 hours I've ever spent in 50 years of theatre in a non-musical. Director Mark Lamos takes the credit for this. And, if you attend - and you quite must - fail not, sweet prince, to peruse his credits and those of the cast and crew. This is a full-throated, roaring production that parallels anything Broadway has to offer.
"What a piece of work is a man! How noble in reason! how infinite in faculty! in form, in moving, how express and admirable!"
And what a piece of work are the technical aspects! Alexander Dodge's scenic design portrays the portent of foreboding and ominous things to come. He works in concert with Matthew Richards' light design to give textures and ambiance. Fabio Toblini's costumes are sumptuous. The use of red on Gertrude and Hamlet stand in bold relief to the forbidding dark castle walls.
"To be or not to be, that is the question,
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles..."
Michael Gotch (Hamlet) brings a nobility and a suffering to this prince. His continually changing mood swings take him from the conversational to the kinetic. He neither over dramatizes the most compelling lines nor pontificates the lesser ones. His words are only one avenue of interpretation; his expressions and body language are the others. His frenetic rant on hearing Ophelia's death was particularly compelling.
"O! my offence is rank, it smells to heaven."
Stephen Pelinski (Claudius) plays the murderous, hypocrite King. He plays it with little coyness or scheming, thereby almost fooling the audience into believing that such a man could not harbor the malevolence that propels him to kill.
“Get thee to a nunnery.”
Erin Partin (Ophelia) enters her 4th season with REP. With each year one has witnessed the ascending quality and importance of the characters she portrays. Initially the roles were walk-ons (although we all know "there are no small parts, only small actors")! Ophelia is Partin's breakout role. Her nunnery days are over. Never could one be so harmoniously cast. Her hair could not have been more perfect; her diaphanous gowns more better selected. Her (multitudinous) crying scenes were so very heart wrenching. Her swooning scene created a shock wave of palpable raw emotion that blew over the audience.
"Give thy thoughts no tongue, Nor any unproportion'd thought his act."
Be thou familiar, but by no means vulgar; Costly thy habit as thy purse can buy,
But not express'd in fancy; rich, not gaudy; For the apparel oft proclaims the man.
Neither a borrower, nor a lender be; For loan oft loses both itself and friend,
And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry. This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man."
"Brevity is the soul of wit"
Steve Tague (Polonius) follows closely the title character himself in the richness and substance of his lines. His reflections to son Laertes are known to every lover of Shakespeare. While he espouses brevity, the man himself does not follow his words...and fortunate for us one of the great comedic actors of REP is here to charm and entertain with his befuddlement. Tague's characterization was a gift to be a part of.
"Alas! poor Yorick. I knew him, Horatio; a fellow of infinite jest,"
Carine Montbertrand (Grave Digger) crossed dressed as the lead character in UTURO URI seasons back. In an inspirational piece of casting, she appears as the bearded excavator of poor Yorick's head. In URI she resembled Hitler. For those 55 years and older, she is reminiscent of Clayton Moore of "The Lone Ranger" TV series. When Kemo Sabe wanted to don another persona to corral those bad hombres, he would disguise himself in the character of a grizzled old prospector with an equally grizzled beard. Montbertrand was his doppelganger.
"The play's the thing wherein I will catch the conscience of the King"
This production ranks with the best REP has ever offered in their brief 4 year experience.
There is both madness and method in this singular production. Do not allow either your lady or your gentleman to protest too much to impede attendance. Words, words, words...delightfully said. Good night, sweet prince, and may flights of angels speed thee to the Roselle Center.
Rep.Udel.edu Through March 17 831.2204