I wish I could muster more enthusiasm for Michael Kahn’s final Hamlet, starring Michael Urie, or for Sovereignty, an Arena Stage World Premiere entry in the Women’s Voices Theater Festival written by Mary Kathryn Nagle, who knows whereof she speaks but not how to make it sing. Those reviews are in this week’s Washington City Paper.
Roque (center), one of the three subjects of “The Homestretch,” is too lucky to make a good poster child for homeless youth.
Here’s my review of the disappointing Kartemquin Films’ documentary The Homestretch for The Dissolve. I made a boneheaded mistake in the version of this where I filed wherein I ascribed the phrase “cruel to kind” to Nick Lowe, not to Hamlet — even though I’d already referenced Hamlet earlier in the review, and in fact, the other piece I filed the day I filed this one was a review of King Lear. Embarrassing. Editors sometimes save your neck.
I reviewed the great Kimberly Gilbert’s passion project Enter Ophelia, distracted, for the Washington City Paper this week. Continue reading
Chris Genebach and Hyla Matthews in Studio Theatre’s THE BIG MEAL. (Carol Pratt)
With three reviews in today’s City Paper, you’d think all I did last weekend was go to plays*. Besides Studio’s wonderful production of Dan LeFranc‘s The Big Meal, I saw Faction of Fools‘s Commedia take on Hamlet, repurposed as Hamlecchino, Clown Prince of Denmark. Plus a Shavian two-fer from Washington Stage Guild. Continue reading
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Tagged Commedia dell'Arte, Conan O'Brien, corrections, Dan LeFranc, Faction of Fools, George Bernard Shaw, Hamlet, Studio Theatre, The Studio Theatre, theater, theatre, Washington City Paper, Washington Stage Guild
“Cast thy nighted color off,” Hamlet’s mom Gertrude, hastily remarried to his fratricidal uncle Claudius, begs of her mournful son. She might have been speaking to Joseph Haj, director of the Folger’s slick and unencumbered new gloss on what we’re used to thinking of as the Bard’s most psychologically complex play.
James Kronzer’s blocky, all-white set offers the first clue of what we’re in for, a visual metaphor for the production’s clean simplicity. Elsinore? Try Apple Store. Deposed King Hamlet’s ghost (a suitably traumatized Todd Scofield) has scarcely begun lobbying his son for vengeance before we see it isn’t just the castle that Haj and star Graham Michael Hamilton have lifted from the shadows: It’s the once-overgrown psychological landscape of the melancholy Prince himself.
Clear-cutting decades or centuries of accumulated inference — Hamlet’s Oedipal lust for Gertrude, his existential disdain of action for action, his self-awareness as a participant in a fiction — this feels like Hamlet for beginners, but that’s no slight. Unburdened of contradiction and played almost as a straight-ahead potboiler — close as it can be without cutting out Hamlet’s iconic half-dozen soliloquies, anyway — the show feels fresh, like a revelatory solo acoustic take of a song you’d thought you could never stand to hear again. Continue reading
Amy Quiggins as Ofelia.
Years ago, when he started making movies in the United States, the great director of Hong Kong action films John Woo enumerated in an interview the many similarities between the brand of hyperkinetic shoot-‘em-ups in which he specialized, and musicals.
There’s nothing that revealing in director/fight choreographer Casey Kaleba’s production of playwright/fight choreographer — you begin to see the problem — Qui Nguyen’s Living Dead in Denmark, which picks up the story of Hamlet 1,828 days later. Elsinore has been overrun by zombies, and the self-slaughtering Ofelia (a limber Amy Quiggins) finds herself, like Jean Grey, mysteriously resurrected. Continue reading
To be, or not to be. That is the . . . point?
Mayhaps. Every script goes through revisions. The script of a play — Hamlet, say — that predates copyright law, and that was often scribbled down as it was performed and passed around in incomplete or inaccurate transcripts, could diverge in innumerable directions, like a game of telephone (albeit 280 years before the telephone). ‘Twasn’t until 1623, seven years after William Shakespeare’s death, that two of his former colleagues in the King’s Men compiled reliable versions of 36 of his plays in what’s now referred to as the First Folio.
In his absorbing experiment Bad Hamlet, playwright/producer John Geoffrion pares Shakespeare’s longest play to its most iconic scenes, but stages it in a kind of binary format, with the First Folio version and an earlier version attributed to 1603 performed simultaneously. Continue reading