The Reviews Keep Rolling In for Oak Park's HAMLET
The very first reviews for our first production of our fortieth season are in. No doubt, more praise will follow. We are hearing raves too from our audiences of all ages. Remember, children 12 and under are admitted free of charge.
(Note: Links To Full Reviews By Clicking On The Reviewer's Name)
The Chicago Critic: "Worthy outdoor production of Hamlet is a summer treat."
"Hamlet , now playing in scenic Oak Park, is set in 1920′s gangster-ridden Chicago... As played by Michael McKeogh, Hamlet is a manically nervous soul who appears to be deliciously insane yet he still has enough charm and charisma and playfulness to be sane. McKeogh's performance is terrific. Sara Pavlak was outstanding. This production of one of the most beloved works of theatre is worthy of an audience. So, bring you picnic basket filled with summer treats and spend an evening under the stars watching an entertaining production of The Bard's best play - Hamlet. Recommended: Tom Williams - The Chicago Critic
The Chicago Reader: Hamlet
"Director Lavina Jadhwani moves Shakespeare's tragedy to 1920s Chicago. Michael McKeogh makes a fine Hamlet, by turns manic and depressed, overly intellectual and hysterical. And Sara Pavlak is astonishing. Michael Pogue's stalwart Horatio brings true nobility to a character who watches helplessly while murder and madness unfold around him." Jack Helbig The Chicago Reader
Wednesday Journal/oakpark.com: 'Hamlet' thrives in 1920s gangland Chicago
"I hesitate to say this tragedy of revenge, with its horrific, climactic accumulation of corpses, is "fun," but this outdoor production in Austin Gardens truly is. I found myself immediately absorbed and delighted. ... The sharp performances and strong direction by Lavina Jadwani make this a unique and powerful experience- beautiful and haunting, yet painfully tragic. ... In the title role, Michael McKeogh delivers a textured performance. Claudius, is well played by Festival's artistic director, Jack Hickey. ... This production uses a trimmed, compressed text. The performance runs about 2 hours and 40 minutes, including one 15-minute intermission. The plot is kept intact, clarified and pared down, but the script never feels truncated or abrupt. ... Hamlet is perhaps the most accessible and intense of all the Bard's works. With a little background prep, kids would be able to enjoy this exciting story. ... Oak Park Festival Theatre has opened its 40th season with an impressive and enjoyable production." Doug Deuchler - The WednesdayJournal/oakpark.com
Chicago Sun-Times Media: Solid 'Hamlet' at Oak Park Festival Theatre
"The production opens with marvelous impact, as Michael Pogue channels both a charismatic preacher and ominous Greek prophet to deliver a prologue. Pogue is forcefully compelling. ... As Hamlet's doomed love interest, Sara Pavlak emanates vulnerability and the singular radiance that comes from being in love for the very first time. Ophelia is an innocent trapped in a den of soul-devouring wolverines. In Pavlak's hands, her journey from joy to heartbreak is devastating. Pavlak nails the famous "mad scene," depicting a girl on the cusp of womanhood, undone and terrified and unhinged by forces she cannot fight or understand. ... Jadhwani delivers a worthy production here. She's helped by Rachel Sypniewski's lovely costume design, which has the ladies in flapper dresses that wouldn't be out of place on the next season of "Downton Abbey. ... The violence design looks bone-crunchingly authentic. The final cage match is a bonafide nail-biter, even if you know how it's going to end. And a key stabbing/stomping murder that takes place behind a drape will send your stomach straight to your throat. ... And amid the towering shadows of Austin Gardens' centuries' old trees, it takes on a spookiness that's fitting indeed." Catey Sullivan - Sun-Times Media