Hamlet at The Center for Performing Arts

by Kevin T McEneaney

You may have seen Hamlet by William Shakespeare; you may have studied it in school. You are aware that Hamlet is considered one of the greatest plays ever written. There are a multitude of books written on Hamlet, more than any other play in the world, and each book claims to have new insights.

Every new production of Hamlet attempts innovative nuance. You could see this play every year and find new aspects of the play if it was performed by a different company of actors. You could read the script at home, yet you are most likely not an actor or director. Any reading of the play is shallow: the play lives on stage! (I once took a graduate seminar in Shakespeare, and it was one of the worst academic courses I ever took because the instructor had no understanding of theater.)

This production stars Yurble as Hamlet, an angry young Prince driven nearly insane by taking on the Biblical role of John the Baptist denouncing the murder of a king who happens to be his father, who marries his mother quicly afterward, as Herod Antipas once did. Yurble is magnificently bipolar, brilliant, an actor with lines that are surprising, comic, angular and poetic to the point as he weaves magic webs of unforgettable words that linger in one’s memory. Peter is also an accomplished swordsman.

Jeremy Ratel as King Claudius (a satire on Essex) is also sufficiently bipolar to have a single episode of mental breakdown before recovering to be another scheming Herod Antipas. Ben Parish as Polonius, a role most often misplayed, is stalwart, perhaps the best Polonius I have ever seen. (I don’t approve of a pistol being used to kill him.) The play delivers the resonance of how a brutal dictatorship operates.

For a gloomy play, there are many madcap, funny, witty lines. The play has been cut, as all productions usually are, and there are two one-halves with a single intermission where one can go to the bar and have a drink with the realization that your life is not so bad, even if it is pouring outside, as it was last Saturday night.

If you have either a love for theater, or a soft spot for the greatest dramatist in the world, then one cannot pass up a chance to witness the different nuances that a Director may bring to the text—in this case, the wise and innovative direction of Lou Trapani who advised and set Peter Kiewra loose on the stage to prove that Hamlet still lives with an anger and pathos and wit that is nearly superhuman.

You have until March 31 until this production of Hamlet disappears. Tickets can be purchased at https://www.centerforperformingarts.org/whats-playing

Kevin T McEneaney

Author of Hunter S. Thompson: Fear, Loathing, and the Birth of Gonzo, and other books