|Horatio and Hamlet hanging out in the cube|
(Kathryn Fumie and Kory LaQuess Pullam,
photo by Amy Anderson)
|Hamlet (Kory LaQuess Pullam) with poor Yorick|
(photo by Amy Anderson)
|Ophelia goes mad, watched by Gertrude|
and Claudius (Sandra Struthers, Maeve
Moynihan, and Charles Hubbell,
photo by Amy Anderson)
The rest of the ensemble is strong as well, particularly the two women who make these traditionally male roles their own - Kathryn Fumie as Horatio (who probably not coincidentally played Hamlet herself in Theater Unbound's all-female production a few years ago) and Tinne Rosenmeier as Polonia. Also great are Charles Hubbell as the murderous Claudius, Sandra Struthers as Queen Gertrude, and Wesley Mouri, Charles Numrich, and Imani Vaughn-Jones in multiple roles, with honorable mention for creepy voice of Theo Langason as the ghost.
In a note in the program, Artistic Director Richard Cook explains that the nontraditional casting "opens minds and emotional doors - we know that when a student sees herself/himself on stage - through their own race or gender - they can personally engage and claim ownership of the play; this is 'access' at its essence." Kudos to Park Square for accomplishing representation on stage in a way that feels real, organic, and compelling.
A few more words about Joel Sass' set, which is dominated by the three-dimensional cube that characters walk through or hang out on. It's slanted and askew, cueing us in immediately to the fact that something is off here, "there's something rotten in the state of Denmark." Video images are projected behind the cube, hinting at location or adding mood to the scene, while the lights around the cube flash with drama. Characters are dressed in modern clothing, helping to make this Hamlet not simply a relic of the past (video designed by Kathy Maxwell, lighting designed by Michael P. Kittel, costumes designed by Alice Fredrickson).
Park Square's Joel Sass' William Shakespeare's Hamlet includes lots of cool and inventive things, which may or may not be successful to each audience member depending on taste. But I always applaud taking risks and doing things differently than they've been done before, even if they don't always work. And for me, it worked. Add to that a fantastic cast breathing life into Shakespeare's most quotable play, and this is a Hamlet not to be missed. Continuing through November 11 (helpful tip - check out both the Xcel Energy Center event schedule as well as the schedule at the new Palace Theatre across the street when planning parking and transportation).
|the play's the thing (photo by Amy Anderson)|