By William Shakespeare
Directed by Michael Halberstam
At Writers’ Theatre, Glencoe
Stunning clarity evokes deep emotions with sharp details from an expert cast led by the fabulous Scott Parkinson as Hamlet.
When you see director Michael Halberstam’s lean, mean Hamlet at Writers’ Theatre in Glencoe, you’ll be stunned by the clarity of the play as it works so well on the Writers’ intimate thrust stage. This three hour tragedy moved along so swiftly that it seemed like only an hour! When a play is so engaging, so well paced and, well acted, time stands still because we are totally into the moment(s). The verbal dexterity of the cast of “A” list classical actors led by the fabulous Scott Parkinson as the troubled Dane made The Bard’s mighty text coming to life with a fresh vigor that astounds.
Hamlet is a well known story about Hamlet’s rage from his belief that his father, the Danish king was murdered by Claudius (Michael Canavan), Hamlet’s uncle and the deceased king’s brother. Adding to Hamlet’s rage is the fact that his mother, Gertrude (Shannon Cochran) marries Claudius. Hamlet plans revenge. Hamlet is part ghost story, part political intrigue, with a doomed romance that unfolds as a murder mystery. Hamlet is an enticing fellow with a contradictory personality. Is he mad or does he feign madness to further his intrigue? Will he succeed with his revenge or will all around him be destroyed by his plot?
Scott Parkinson deftly presents the complex sides of the Danish Prince as we see him as a charming fellow brooding over his death who is affected by seeing his father’s ghost who tells him of his murder. Larry Yando is creepily effective as the Ghost. Adding to the epic characters was yeomen work by Ross Lehman as Polonius; Kareem Bandealy’s Horsatio; and Liesel Matthews’ Ophelia. Timothy Edward Kane exudes fiery rage as Laertes. His final sword fight with Scott Parkinson was amazing.
In this intimate setting, you can see the emotions: the guile, the rage, and the intensity in vivid detail – by looking straight into the eyes of each player. The atmosphere is intensified by Sarah Hughey’s lighting design and Mikhall Fiksel’s sound design. But ,ultimately what makes this Hamlet special is the remarkable shifting emotions and detailed nuanced acting but Scott Parkinson. He shows sides of the Danish Prince that few players can muster. Complexity is a breeze with Parkinson’s talent. He rendered the finest Hamlet this reviewer has ever witnessed! It is a remarkable acting achievement as it is enough to justify the trip to the North Shore to Glencoe.
At Writers’ Theatre, 325 Tudor court, Glencoe, IL, call 847-242-6000, www.writerstheatre.org, tickets $35 – $70, Tuesdays & Wednesdays at7:30 pm, Thursdays & Fridays at 8 pm, Saturdays at 4 & 8 pm, Sundays at 2 & 6 pm, with Wednesday 2 pm matinees on select dates, running time is 3 hours with 2 intermissions.