Hamlet Lives On

By Byron Toben on November 6, 2012


Written around 1596, Hamlet has endured as one of the world`s greatest plays. Although Hamlet dies at the end (as do all of the main characters, save Horatio), yet he lives on in myriad performances , both live and filmed.

In his latest incarnation by the fine Persephone Productions, the melancholy Danish prince comes alive again for three hours in an incisive portrayal by Christopher Moore. As Hamlet is Shakespeare’s longest play, it requires a protagonist with stamina as well as clear elocution and acting chops. Mr. Moore brings these skills to the fore.

He is aided by the experienced direction of Westmount resident Gabrielle Soskin, This tragedy has dozens of famous quotes that have entered the English language..”Leave Her To Heaven”.“Neither a borrower nor lender be…” To thine own self be true”  :Good night, sweet prince..”. Ms Soskin and Mr Moore and indeed the entire cast have refrained from billboarding each such quote to the audience nor underplaying them needlessly.

hamlet10.jpgIn this respect, they fulfill Hamlet`s instructions to the visiting Players troupe, to suit the action to the word and the word to the action Howard Rosenstein, the only Equity performer in the cast, shines in the dual role of deceitful uncle Claudius and the ghost of his deceased brother King Hamlet pere. Clive Brewer is a model as the long winded (but sensible) Polonius, dispersing advice to his son Laertes (Lucas Chartier-Dessert) and tragic daughter Ophelia (Arielle Palik). Both of these stage siblings starred in the recent under reported History of the Devil.

Romy Daniel impressed as Queen Gertrude and Alex Goodrich was solid as Horatio. The rest of this largely young cast of 13 in 22 roles did what was needed to be done properly.

This framework allows one to bathe in the music of Shakespeare`s verse,

I cannot help but add a few words of my own guidelines on reviewing plays.

One St Matthew opined that “In the beginning was the Word..” and I agree.

Costumes and lighting and music are great, but the Word`s the prong wherein we’ll capture the attention of the throng. So I`m your text kinda guy.

Whether the venue was too hot or too cold for the critic, whether Laertes was too tall or the company has an intermission raffle, whether Sky Masterson in Guys and Dolls was too old or some actors of colour in Inherit the Wind distracted from the show, all this, as the great critic Rick of Casablanca observed “doesn`t amount to a hill of beans”

Sit back and focus on the messages which are in the medium

HAMLET continues at Calixa-Lavallee until Nov 10 and remounts at Victoria Hall

Nov 17-18. 1-866-967-8167




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