By Joan Alperin-Schwartz
'To be or not to be: That is the question' has to be one of the most famous lines of dialogue ever written.
The first time I saw 'Hamlet' I was 8 years old, in grade school, in Brooklyn New York....Of course, I did have a little trouble with the dialogue, but I knew, something special was going on.
Since that time, I've seen 'Hamlet' performed over fifty times, including the excellent, but unconventional, Broadway production starring, Ralph Fiennes as the tormented Dane.
So the thought, of seeing an all-female version of the play, didn't exactly excite me. Driving over to the Odyssey Theatre, I couldn't help but wonder, what could this group of actresses bring to Shakespeare's finest tragedy, that I haven't seen before?. Also, women playing men's roles isn't exactly, ground breaking.
I am more than happy to report, that my trepidation, was completely unwarranted..
The Los Angeles Women's Shakespeare Company has given us one of the most exciting, sexually provocative and brilliantly acted productions of 'Hamlet' that (forgive my repetition) would make, William Shakespeare, proud.
First, I must start with the co-director Lisa Wolpe who plays the suffering, Prince Hamlet.
Miss Wolpe is absolutely, mesmerizing. She brings a raw masculine sensuality to the part, while at the same time, conveys Hamlet's torment, grief, rage, and inner struggle. The moment she uttered...'To be or not to be', I knew I was in good hands.
Besides acting, Lisa is also the co-director, along with another stand-out cast member, Natsuko Ohama.
Natsuko is wonderful as the meddlesome and at times, funny, Polonius, the chief counselor to King Claudius (Veralyn Jones) who murdered Hamlet's daddy and married his mother, Queen Gertrude (Laura Wernette)
Polonius is father to Hamlet's one time girl friend, the doomed, Orphelia (Chastity Dotson) and her super angry brother, Laertes (Cynthia Beckert).
At this point, I should write a few words about the story, itself
'Hamlet' set in the kingdom Of Denmark, is a supernatural, revenge play, that deals with treachery, incest, moral corruption, politics, lust, insanity, and...SPOILER ALERT...Practically everyone dies...
Rounding out this excellent cast are...Elizabeth Swain, (Ghost of Hamlet's father)...Katrinka Wolfson, (Rosencrantz)...Cristina Frias (Guildenstern) and Kimberleigh Aarn as Hamlet's good buddy, Horatio.
This is a must see production for not only Shakespeare fans, but for anyone, who loves great theatre.
Also an important note...'Hamlet's' running time is usually, anywhere between 3 to 4 hours, but Lisa and Natsuko have cut it down to a mere 2 hours and that includes intermission.
The play opened on Friday, Saturday, September 7th and runs thru October 27th...
Wednesdays @8pm: Sept. 18, Oct. 2, 16
Thursdays @8 pm: Sept. 12, 26, Oct. 10, 24
Friday @8 pm: Sept. 13, 20, 27, Oct. 4, 11, 18,25
Saturdays @8pm: Sept. 14, 21, 28, Oct 5, 12, 19, 27 and
Sundays @2 pm: Sept. 15, 22, 29, Oct. 8, 13, 20, 27
The Odyssey theatre is located at 2055 South Sepulveda Blvd, Los Angeles CA 90026
TICKETS: Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays..$25
Saturdays and Sundays...$30
Please call 310-477-2955 ext 2 or www.OdysseyTheatre.com for Tickets