Persephone Productions’ monochrome set, black with chalk outlines, coupled with the charcoal clothing worn by Hamlet and his peers, gives the tale of the Danish prince a pre-Technicolor, BBC-miniseries feel.
Christopher Moore’s Hamlet is appropriately sulky, Clive Brewer’s Polonius cloying, loveable, brilliant in a way that has the audience thinking, “I know a guy just like that.”
Howard Rosenstein channels Chris Sarandon in The Princess Bride—a veritable Humperdinck in the role of Hamlet’s stepfather uncle, the king. If some of his lines were delivered too quickly (speaking Shakespeare fast doesn’t mean it’s over sooner), it can probably be blamed on opening-night jitters, for he and his Gertrude (Romy Daniel) were otherwise as regal as Arielle Palik’s Ophelia is sweet and mad.
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The scene-stealer—first pitying, then delightfully wrapped up in the drama and mystery—is stalwart friend Horatio. Alex Goldrich plays him as devoutly loyal but not immune to eyebrow-raising wonder.
And if Hamlet’s affection for Horatio—and for Laertes (Lucas Chartier-Dessert) and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern (James Harrington and Cameron Sedgwick)—seems a little too deep, a little too primal considering his supposed love for doomed Ophelia, again perhaps the audience can be blamed for their more base interpretations.
Hamlet plays at Calixa-Lavallée Theatre, 3819 Calixa-Lavallée, till November 10 and at Victoria Hall, 4626 Sherbrooke W., November 17 and 18. $25, $15 for students and QDF members. Group rates available. 1-866-967-8167, persephoneproductions.org.