HEROICALLY TRAGIC "HAMLET" AT HARTFORD STAGE


BONNIE GOLDBERG

Revenge is a great motivator. Combine it with righteous indignation and the need to correct a grievous wrong and you have the relentless passion that consumes Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. His good father, the King, has been murdered, his life snuffed out by none other than his own flesh and blood, his brother Claudius. To compound this deadly deed, the new King, Claudius has within one month, a mere thirty days, taken Hamlet's mother, Queen Gertrude, his own brother's widow, to wed and assumed the heavy crown as ruler.

You may think you know this dramatic tale by Shakespeare, but enter into the intriguing world painted by director Darko Tresnjak in the brilliant production of "Hamlet" currently being plotted at the Hartford Stage until Sunday, November 16.

Zach Appelman is amazing as the conflicted youth whose father's apparition sets him on a course of enacting justice by unveiling the current monarch's treasonous deed and revealing the unfaithful heart of his mother, the Queen. Feigning madness, Hamlet seeks his revenge, holding his own counsel and swearing his closest friends to secrecy.

To say his loving friend Ophelia (Brittany Vicars) is confused by his words and acts is an understatement. Her deep affection for Hamlet is tested to the point where she genuinely assumes a cloak of madness, especially after her father Polonius (Edward James Hyland) is slain by Hamlet's hand. The absence of her brother Laertes (Anthony Roach) only compounds her grief.

Hamlet's disdain for his mother Gertrude (Kate Forbes) is evident in his every word and gesture. As for Hamlet's uncle, now his step-father, Hamlet can't wait to catch him in a lie and even has a troupe of theatrical players perform a show that reveals his treachery and evil.

Swept into the devious plot, his seeming comrades Rosencrantz (Curtis Billings) and Guildenstern (Cliff Miller) are revealed to be disloyal, while his good friend Horatio (James Seol) remains steadfast in his trust. The set designed by Darko Tresnjak is a giant cross, that gives note to the religious references of the tragedy and changes colors to match the action. The elaborate costumes by Fabio Toblini are an exquisite addition.

For tickets ($25 and up), call the Hartford Stage, 50 Church Street, Hartford at 860-527-5151 or online at www.hartfordstage.org. Performances are Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., with matinees Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m.

Follow the ghost of Hamlet's father (Andrew Long) as he appears in a swirl of fog and mist to guide his son to the brink of danger and death.

 

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