Post apocalyptic in theory. A mashup of classical and modern theatre.
There is more to like than not in the new production of Hamlet Max an adaptation of Shakespeare’s Hamlet currently being presented by Central City Productions and co-presented in the Hollywood Fringe Festival at Schkapf by Sacred Fools.
It is for the most part a well thought out production that attempts to freshly explore Shakespeare’s text and which also deeply underscores the emotional/psychological dilemmas of a passionate young Hamlet in contempt.
There are troublesome areas however beginning with the basic delivery of the verse, which is derived from the Second Quarto (Q2) and takes character inspiration from the Norse history myth of Amleth.
Stylistically, Hamlet Max is its own unique creation. Often filmic, it is set by the classic animates of Hillary Bauman’s manga-style background art which does well to capture albeit lightly, the post apocalypse, the general environment and feeling of the moments.
However, as it is a language play, the play rests in the language itself and unfortunately it is at times lost. A basic lack of enunciation (by some of the actors) and too fast moving speech (perhaps a sacrifice for pacing) without stressing the importance of the spoken work, occasionally hurts the points of the story.
To be sure there are meritorious performances by Kathy Bell Denton (Gertrude) Jonathan Goldstein (Claudius), Matt Henerson (Polonius), and Andy Hirsch (Horatio) who offer clarity and and color; also a well executed Ophelia (Corryn Cummins); and a well tempered Laertis (Kellie Matteson). Casey McKinnon (Guildenstern) puts in a light performance and does what she can with what she is given, which is not much. As a gender bending role, along with Ms. Matteson (doubling up as Rosencrantz) it is plausible to a degree but is not a best choice for the story.
Hamlet himself, played not so nihilistically but rather with more quiet, calculated revenge and rather vulnerably, by Jacob Sidney, is brought to an even more introspective level via the media of the production; inner thoughts register on the background scrim with dubbed voice-over, given breath by Hamlet, to only the words that simply cannot be held silent. It is quite an effective technique that actually works.
What irritates is the music that forcefully leads the audience down an overbearing emotional path.
What was excellent:
Animation – Chris Hutchings
Set & Lighting Design – Mike Rainey
Hamlet Max is definitely worth the ticket for the season’s Hollywood Fringe.
Running time 90 minutes.