Well, Hamlet at Shakespeare & Company was a dud, as far as I'm concerned.
The New York Times (An Active Hamlet subscription required) does not agree, Ben Brantley gives it a glowing review. The play did not move me one bit...
Not that much spectacle is required (or used) to command the attention here. As is almost always the case with productions from Shakespeare & Company, the first priority is to tell a cracking good story and to “speak the speech” so clearly and comprehendingly that even theatergoers new to Shakespeare grasp the plot and characters (and forgive some less-than-subtle performances along the way)
sounded more like often agitated declaming to me. Our highschool theatre class could have done better. This being a theatre-in-the-round, I sat right next to Hamlet (sitting in a clear plastic chair) when he made his famous speech, and he left me completely cold. Here Mr. Brantley is a bit more on my side:
This Hamlet is never more intriguingly thoughtful than when surprised by his father’s living memory. Otherwise, Mr. Asprey’s Hamlet is too impatient to convince as a vacillating philosopher prince, whose resolution is “sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought.” He does the famous soliloquies with a throwaway grace that makes them less than a main event.
And here we are in unison:
More distracting are the hipster costumes (by Jessica Ford) , which suggest that the court of Elsinore routinely trawls the Top Shop stores for Gaultier and Galliano knockoffs. And while Kevin O’Donnell’s fired-up Laertes is a perfect dimmer mirror to Mr. Asprey’s Hamlet, Ms. Raetz’s Ophelia is too spunky and spiky to morph believably into a suicidal flower child.
I am a bit kinder on Ophelia, she seemed to totter towards suicide from the beginning.
Ah, well, maybe this is for a younger audience. So much for my comprehension of the performing arts... <grin>.