Friday September 22nd 2017

“Hamlet”

Tragedy, for many, is not their favorite theater fare, but when done to perfection, tragedy can be beautiful. While we are all familiar with Shakespeare’s “Hamlet”, we are used to seeing it performed on a large stage with massive sets and a full cast. When it was first announced that the intimate Writers’ Theatre in Glencoe was doing this play, I thought about how they might pull it off- well, seeing is believing and they succeeding beyond my expectations. The first step on the part of Director Michael Halberstam, himself a devotee of “the Bard” was to assemble a cast of actors who love doing Shakespeare, which he has done. The second step was to put together a production team that could execute the sound(Mikhail Fiksel), lighting( Sarah Hughey), set( Collette Pollard) and props (Nick Heggestad) to make this large story fit into their small theater- another mission accomplished!

I am sure “Hamlet” is known to most of you. A tragedy that is part doomed love story, part ghost story and  part murder mystery where greed, madness and revenge are all part of a true tragedy- no one wins in the end. Hamlet ( played to perfection by Scott Parkinson, who handles the madness with a special feeling) has come home to find that his father is dead and his uncle has taken over the kingdom and his mother, the queen. As it turns out, the uncle did the evil deed to take over the ruler-ship and the queen. While all have accepted this, Hamlet cannot and plans to bring his uncle down. Claudius, his uncle is portrayed by Michael Canavan and Gertrude deftly handled by Shannon Cochran.  taking on the role of Horatio, Hamlets best friend is Kareem Bandealy ( another actor who has done quite a bit of Shakespeare). Veteran actor Ross Lehman takes on the role of Polonius, father of Hamlet’s love Ophelia ( Liesel Matthews) and her brother Laertes ( another Shakespearean veteran Timothy Edward Kane).  The events that take place involving this family are pure tragedy .

Rosencrantz is handled by Julian Parker and Guildenstern by Billy Fenderson and Witold Huzior takes on the role of  Fortinbras. Many of the male cast members take on several roles in addition to their major parts which allows for a less crowded stage and gives these actors an opportunity to show their ability to develop different characters. There is one more cast member who I have saved for last only because it is always such a treat to watch him on any stage, playing any role, but since he is a true scholar of “The Bard”, even more so when it is a Shakespeare lay and that is Larry Yando who plays The Ghost of Hamlet’s father and three other parts including the gravedigger. What a powerful cast!

“Hamlet” is a play that should be seen, not read, and to be able to see this fine cast in the intimate Writers’ Theatre makes it even more special. The fight scene in the third act was quite scary in that the swords are flying very near to the audience members in the first row ( David Wooley is the fight director or choreographer). This is the fastest 2 hours and 50 minutes of Shakespeare I have witnesses to date. The Production moves smoothly from start to end- three acts, two intermissions and one breathtaking evening of theater.

“Hamlet” will continue at Writers’ Theatre located at 325 Tudor Court ( just West of Green Bay Road) in Glencoe through November 11th with performances as follows:

Tuesdays at 7:30 p.m. ( except 10/30), Wednesdays at 2 p.m. ( October 10th,17th and 31st ONLY) and 7:30 p.m. ( except for 10/17), Thursdays and Fridays at 8 p.m.,Saturdays at 4 and 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 and 6 p.m.  ( no 6 p.m. on 10/14)

Tickets range from $35-$70 and are available at the box office  located at their other venue, just down the street at 376 Park Avenue, by phone at 847-242-6000 or online at www.writerstheatre.org

there is plenty of FREE parking in the area.  There are also a few casual dining spots in walking distance.

To see more about “hamlet”, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to review round-up and click on Hamlet”

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