I take almost every opportunity to see a new production of Hamlet. Each company invents its own interpretation of this rich and fascinating play.
Prince Hamlet broods over the death of his father, seething with anger as he has been swindled out of his throne by his uncle, Claudius, who is now king. Hamlet loves Ophelia, who has been warned not to give in sexually to Hamlet, which would derail a marriage and her family’s opportunities at court. While loving her in return, Hamlet suspects her and her family of ambitious designs.
Jennifer Vo Le plays Ophelia as the woman torn between love and the cruel machinery of court that demands the sacrifice of ideal on the altar of ambition. Jennifer Vo Le plays her first scenes as the weeping, wailing vulnerable young woman. In a complete reversal of personality, she plays her last two scenes tough, becoming a dangerous woman in a masterful performance that alone makes the evening worthwhile.
Terry Kolkey plays Polonius, the father of Ophelia, the cagy councilor trying to place a member of his family on the throne of Denmark. Edwin Ortiz plays her brother Laertes, a man with his own royal ambitions, with strength and intensity.
Glenn Havlan anchors the play with his strong, serious, greedy and intelligent approach to the part of Claudius the king. Lynn Sotos plays Queen Gertrude with poise.
Hamlet is played by Tim Gahan, a co-founder of Truepenny, with a ditsy surface that deliberately obscures the seriousness of his enterprise: to get the throne back and to avenge the murder of his father.
Richard Allen plays Horatio, Hamlet’s faithful buddy. Kathy Mello, Christopher Upham, Dan Mack, Santiago and Eric Tippett play multiple supporting roles. Paul Seliga runs lights and sounds.
Kevin Burke makes his directing debut. His interview on KALW can be heard here: http://kalw.org/term/kevin-burke
Don’t miss the opportunity to see this fine play.
Hamlet plays at the Alcove Theatre, 414 Mason, 5th floor, in San Francisco until April 26th, 2014.