As a work of the imagination, Theater in the Rough's production of "Hamlet" has to be compared with "Crouching Dragon, Hidden Tiger." The only real difference is that none of TR's actors broke with gravity. Although if they had, I would not have been surprised. By combining excellence in acting, and brilliance in stagecraft, TR's actors and actresses transformed, for a few hours, the minimalist McPhetres Hall into the drafty castles and foggy moors of medieval Denmark.
I read "Hamlet" in a Shakespeare class in college, I have seen Mel Gibson do it on-screen, and I have seen bits and pieces of it here and there over the years. The image of Hamlet confronting the skull of Yorick has been in my mind since high school. None of those things has brought the story and characters to life for me like TR's production.
For the first time I felt the agony of Ophelia, the loyalty of Horatio, and the naivet of Gertrude as they each tried, in their own way, to deal with Hamlet's consuming rage and mental disarray. Then there's the richness and vibrancy of Shakespeare's original language. TR does us all the great favor of not sacrificing it to some modern idiom which has only a kind of current popularity.
For years now, TR has been bringing us world class theater arts and an accessible Shakespeare. "Hamlet" is their best so far.
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