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Thursday, August 18, 2005

To "Hamlet" at Shakespeare in Delaware Park last night. I hate to think that I may be losing the flexibility to attend this on a beach blanket-- folding chairs are for old people, but the ground was pretty unforgiving. (Which reminds me-- I saw "Ocean's 12" on the plane and was surprised at how much I enjoyed it. I'd say I was completely sold by the time they got to this:

Danny Ocean: How old do you think I am?
Virgil Malloy: 48?
Danny Ocean: You think I'm 48 years old?
Virgil Malloy: 52?
Danny Ocean: Do I look 50 to you?
Basher Tarr: Yeah.
Danny Ocean: Really?
Basher Tarr: Well, I mean, you know, only from the neck up.

If I hadn't been sold by then, I would have been, you know? Clooney, by the way, is 44.)

I'd not been to Shakespeare earlier this summer-- I'm about "Romeo and Juliet"'d out if you want to know the truth, and nobody I know that saw it had much positive to say. "Hamlet" is tougher to do well, so I was a bit anxious-- three and a half hours of bad "Hamlet" would be pretty hard to take. Much to my relief, what we got was quite good. Paul Todaro, who I think of as more suited to comic roles, or parts like Tybalt, which call for antic energy, proved more than up to the challenge, and handled the transition from melancholy to mad to mature ably and gracefully. I was particularly impressed with the Yorric speech, which can be maudlin, and was here the moment when the Prince pulls it together in a way that made perfect sense. Also good, Kate LoConti as a sexy Ophelia-- a part typically more epherial, LoConti played it so that the Prince's attraction was understandable, while not missing the heartbreak. I also thought Peter Palmisano made the most out of Claudius, which is hard to do. The King is tough because he seems like a pretty reasonable guy. He is nice to Gertrude, and his crimes were all committed off stage. It feels to me that Shakespeare had to include the bedchamber scene as much to establish the King's culpability as to demonstrate Hamlet's ambivalence. Played differently, with that scene omitted, one could buy into the idea that Hamlet is just nuts-- tragically so, but nuts all the same. Finally, Tim Newell handled windy old Polonius nicely, walking the line between comically pompous and sincere, well-intentioned parent as well as any parent could hope to. Poor old duffer, who would do a better job with kids like those?

It runs through 8/21, and if I could, I'd go see it again. You'll want two bottles of wine, and a sweatshirt, but forget about the folding chair-- that's for old people.

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