Sunday, August 27, 2017

Hamlette & ye Bugges

Silicon Valley Shakespeare, the folks who did Julius Caesar last year in a dirt amphitheater up in an isolated mountain canyon, did Hamlet there this year. I went back, even though so did the flying bugs, who made their presence quite conspicuous for the first half.

Also returning were a few of the actors, all of whom in this Hamlet were women, some of assorted races. I not only don't mind that kind of gimmick in a classic play, I tend to be intrigued and attracted to it, so long as they don't mangle the text. (They didn't; even Hamlet's misogyny was intact.) Though the actors, mostly local journeyfolk, didn't have the depth of OSF's best, they all, including the smaller parts, brought strong character to their roles, and the production as a whole had more spirit and heart than OSF's latest misconceived Hamlet.

The Prince herself tried to make up in dedication what she lacked in anguish and fury; and, except when stabbing people, at which she was not convincing, was quite adequate for this demanding part. Each famous soliloquy came out with honesty. The emotion belonged to Gertrude; I'd never heard the deaths of Polonius and Ophelia announced with such tragic sorrow. Claudius figured out how to make herself imperturbable without being wooden, something a lot of Claudii have trouble with; unfortunately, she also played the Ghost the same way. Laertes transformed Act 1 sparkle to Act 5 ferocity. Ophelia looked like a ghost when still alive. Horatio - the nearby high school's drama teacher - was the cast's best line-reader. Polonius had the most extraordinary accent. An Austrian native about as well assimilated as Ahnuld, she seems to have learned English as a combination of Cockney, Irish, and Australian.

If I can forget about the bugs, I may return.

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