The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 18.0196 Thursday, 15 March 2007
Date: Tuesday, 13 Mar 2007 17:04:18 -0400
Subject: Know Theatre Hamlet
The Know Theatre, in downtown Cincinnati, is an intimate loft that seats
perhaps a hundred spectators. The stage is multi-level and relatively bare.
The Know Theatre's production of Hamlet creatively echoes the
innovations of the Ethan Hawke Hamlet. The stage is surrounded with as
many video monitors "as may be." At the rear of the stage is a large
screen on which the ghost of Hamlet's father (Nick Rose) appears -- a
fine piece of video work, and Rose plays a very ambiguous ghost --
apparently hiding a smile as he convinces young Hamlet to seek revenge.
Later, as the stylish and rather cool Gertrude (Liz Vosmiere) gives her
fantastic account of Ophelia's death, Ophelia's image with hands bound
thrashing in the water is projected on the rear screen. Now and again
throughout the action the image of Gertrude and Claudius chastely
embracing appears on some of the small monitors. Interestingly not all
the monitors always show the same image. I'm assuming that this is Jason
Bruffy's director's choice, not an electrical mishap.
The play begins with a flash forward to Hamlet's death. The lighting is
muted, and the actors speak without affect. The emphasis is on Hamlet's
instructing Horatio (Robert Williams) to tell his story, and, of course,
the rest of the play is Horatio's story.
Chris Guthrie is an excellent Hamlet, who takes his own advice about
suiting the action to the word, the word to the action (3.2.17-18).
Guthrie's Hamlet is understated, but he plays a mean recorder
(3.2.345ff.) as Guildenstern (Anthony Darnel) tries to "play upon" Hamlet.
As Ophelia (Liz Holt) tries to engage Hamlet in conversation
(3.1.89ff.), Claudius (Jeff Groh in military uniform) and Polonius (Jim
Stump in tux), placed on opposite sides of the stage, carefully watch
the couple on closed-circuit T.V. Both Groh and Stump are excellent.
In the final scene Hamlet and Laertes (Derek Snow) duel with knifes,
choreographed by K. Jenny Jones. Snow is an imposing Laertes.
The only thing wrong with this production is that it closes on March 17.
For tickets and information, call 513.300.KNOW.
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