Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 5, No. 0307. Monday, 4 April 1994.
Date: Sunday, 3 Apr 1994 21:52:18 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Orlando-UCF Shakespeare Festival
Friday was opening night for the fifth season of the Orlando-University
of Central Florida Shakespeare Festival, and open-air theater-goers were
treated to Director Russell Treyz' _Hamlet_. (This reviewer saw the
preview of _Hamlet_, but has not yet seen the second play, _Much Ado
About Nothing_, directed by Mark Rucker and set against the art deco high
society backdrop of the American 1930's.)
Despite the difficulties of outdoor performances (the most vexing of
which is the fact that the amphitheater is on the downwind leg of Orlando
Executive Airport) Jim Helsinger as Hamlet gave an extraordinary
performance. It was possibly the most accessible Hamlet I've seen, with
the maximum amount of humor wrung from Shakespeare's words; antic,
desperate, calm at the end, Hamlet progresses from wry ("A little more
than kin, and less than kind!") through ridiculous, to end in a serene
Paul Kiernan was a loyal and likable Horatio, and Celia Howard was an
older Gertrude, strong and yet still caught by the sensuality of her new
marriage. Suzanne O'Donnell was a practical and forthright Ophelia whose
pitiful madness is in startling contrast to her former warm good humor.
Jack Judd is an earnestly foolish Polonius, and David McCann plays a
calculating and self-centered Claudius, trying to rationalize his crime.
The new stage at the Eola Park Amphitheater allowed new blocking
configurations, adding a number of "above" exits, a trap door, and a rear
wall that functions as a projection screen where Elsinore backgrounds
were shown. The three-hour show was plain enough for the group of high
school students who attended (members of the Festival's Young Company,
who are performing _Romeo and Juliet_ as a play within a play, set in the
framework of present day Bosnia) yet contained enough subtlety for
seasoned Shakespeare aficionados, a remarkable feat. Performances
continue throughout the month of April, ticket prices are modest
($6-$25). If you're anywhere near Orlando this month, make it a point to
see OSF's '94 offerings.