BWW Review: HAMLET at Gloucester Stage
A King, now a ghost, walks the night, to bring tidings to his son Hamlet, of his own murder "most foul", at the hands of his brother Claudius who then becomes King. The Queen Mother, Gertrude, then becomes the new King's wife. Next a counselor to the king, Polonius, is murdered by Hamlet when Hamlet confronts his Mother over her role in his father's death and the Polonius tries to call the guards to stop Hamlet from revealing this secret, Then Polonius' daughter Ophelia, who is in love with Hamlet and who is rejected by him in his grief, commits suicide. Her brother Laertes comes to avenge his father's death, and duels with the Hamlet, to the death of both, but not before the queen drinks poison meant for Hamlet, and then just before he dies Hamlet kills Claudius. "The Play's the thing" says Hamlet, and quite the play it is.
Performed hundreds of times over the years since Shakespeare wrote it, Hamlet is one of the most iconic of his plays. In most productions the play features a large cast, lavish costumes and scenery, and is as much spectacle and pageantry as poetry.
In this refreshing stripped down, modern day take on the play, it is performed in an intimate theatre. A fantastic cast of six actors, take on multiple roles and through numerous costume quick changes, contemporary humor, and electronic music, they bring to life a production that is modern, streamlined, compelling and very enjoyable. This production is conceived and expertly directed by Christopher V. Edwards.
In an unusual role reversal, of title role, actress Gigi Watson brings us Hamlet with a twist. Ms. Watson is simply excellent in her intense and provocative performance. Wearing boots, black Jeans, a white t-shirt and motorcycle jacket throughout, she looks more motorcycle gang member than prince, but along with the graffiti backdrop, and electronic rock music accompaniment it works, to show this Hamlet as a young knife wielding, cell phone equipped rebel. Another standout in the cast is Thomas Grenon as; Polonius/Horatio/PlayerQueen/Lucianus/Ensemble. Mr. Grenon is very successful in his ability to create and sustain two excellent characterizations, that of Polonius and Horatio who appear sometimes only moments apart but are worlds apart in their interpretations and expertly portrayed. Ophelia is beautifully portrayed by Charlotte Kinder, her mad scene is particularly touching, and she also plays (Bernardo/Rosencrantz/Priest/OSRIC/Ensemble).
Speaking of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern; in an inspired bit of comic relief, Ms. Kinder and Zachary Zamsky who also plays; (Laertes/Francisco/Guildenstern/Player KING/Ensemble), are fantastic as Hamlet's friends, they are portrayed as a couple of spaced out stoners, and they are both very funny. Mr. Zamsky is also convincing in each of his several other characters, making each a very different person, and each compelling to watch. Finally, Gertrude portrayed by Olivia Miller who also plays (Grave Digger/Ensemble) is a complex and ultimately sympathetic mother to Hamlet and truly engaging to watch, and her Grave Digger is hilarious. Shawn K. Jain, as Claudius and the Ghost is likewise complex and riveting to watch. This group of actors are a fine ensemble with each having their individual standout moments. If you are looking for period costumes, or are a Shakespeare purist, then this is not the production for you. However, this play is well directed, it features fine performances from all, it is tight and the pacing is brisk and engaging. Overall this is fine adaptation and worth seeing, treat yourself to something new.
Gloucester Stage Company wraps up its 40th Anniversary Season of professional theater with William Shakespeare's Hamlet from October 25 through November 17 at Gloucester Stage Company, 267 East Main Street, Gloucester, MA.
Hamlet features Artistic Director of Actors' Shakespeare Project Christopher V. Edwards in his GSC directing debut and a cast headlined by acclaimed Boston actress Gigi Watson making her GSC debut in the title role of Hamlet. The cast also includes GSC newcomers Shawn K. Jain as Claudius, Charlotte Kinder as Ophelia, Olivia Miller as Gertude, Zachary Zamsky as Laertes, and a returning GSC favorite from 2017's SRO production of To Kill A Mockingbird, Thomas Grenon as Polonius.
HAMLET PERFORMANCE DATES & TIMES:
OCTOBER 25 - NOVEMBER 17
Public performances are limited to weekends with student matinees weekdays.
OCTOBER 25-OCTOBER 27
Fridays & Saturday: 7:30 pm;
Saturday & Sunday: 2:00 pm
NOVEMBER 2-NOVEMBER 17
Saturday: 7:30 pm
Sunday: 2:00 pm
SPECIAL WEDNESDAY NIGHT PERFORMANCES ADDED:
Wednesdays, November 6 and November 13: 7:30 pm
Student Matinees October 29 - November 15
Tuesdays - Fridays: 10:00am
Gloucester Stage Company, 267 East Main Street, Gloucester, MA 01930
SINGLE TICKET PRICES: Single Ticket prices are $15 to $48 with discounts available for Preview Performances, Senior Citizens, Military Families, and College Students and those under 18 years of age. For detailed ticket information visit www.gloucesterstage.com
PAY WHAT YOU WISH: SATURDAY, OCTOBER 26, 2 PM: Gloucester Stage is committed to inclusion and diversity, including socio-economic status. Pay What You Wish performances are the first Saturday Matinee (2pm) of each production, allowing access to the arts for all. No one is turned away for lack of funds and donations can be made before or after the show.
CAPE ANN NIGHTS: WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 6, 7:30 PM; WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 13, 7:30 PM; Enriching our local community is key to our mission impact. Residents of Cape Ann can purchase $25 tickets at Preview Performances and every Wednesday of each production. Limit of 2 (two) per household. Tickets can be purchased by calling the Box Office 978.281.4433, with a valid address.
POST-SHOW DISCUSSIONS: SUNDAY: NOVEMBER 3 & NOVEMBER 10: Following the 2 pm performances on Sunday, NOVEMBER 3 and Sunday, NOVEMBER 10, audiences are invited to free post-show discussions with the artists from Hamlet.
ABOUT THE COMPANY: Gloucester Stage is a professional non-profit theater providing a unique, intimate experience as audiences are never more than five rows from the stage. Located in a century-old repurposed brick warehouse on the waterfront of Cape Ann, the organization is led by Artistic Director Robert Walsh and Managing Director Christopher Griffith. Now in the Company's 40th Season, GSC benefits from a loyal audience searching for intellectually stimulating and socially relevant stories.
For further information, call the Gloucester Stage Box Office at 978-281-4433
or visit GLOUCESTERSTAGE.COM