Wednesday, September 30, 2009


"Hamlet" presented by Donmar New York at the Broadhurst Theatre

(Photo by Johan Persson)

In its 66th appearance on the Great White Way, Shakespeare once again proves that good writing gets produced.

It doesn't hurt that the latest version stars Jude Law, directed by Tony Award winner Michael Grandage in a transfer from the Donmar Warehouse production in London earlier this year.

With a production design reminiscent of a Calvin Klein ad (" Calvin Klein" - ok, I might have borrowed that analogy), this dark, dreary and brooding evening in contemporary dress does hold the audience's attention for its 3+ hour running time. I'll dispense with a plot summary and get directly to the performances.

Mr. Law's is a cynical and jaded prince, managing some shades (about four) as he wails and sobs through his manic portrayal. He acquits himself well overall, but comes across a bit self-indulgent from time to time in his direct address monologues. Gugu Mbatha- is a lovely, delicate and fragile Ophelia (though I missed the gossamer gown for her mad scene when she entered in a gray hoodie). Kevin McNally's Claudius was suitably scheming and devious. Geraldine James' Gertrude, tall and elegant, felt a little unsure of herself at times. Ron Cook's Gravedigger fared a bit better than his Polonius, who tossed away several of his laughs.

Mr. Grandage keeps the production moving relatively well, guiding with a thoughtful hand. Christopher Oram's sets saved a buck or two by keeping the upstage wall of the theatre black, left over from the previous tenants at the Broadhurst, Mary Stuart. His costumes I've already commented about. Neil Austin's moody lighting provided ample challenges for the actors to find a place for their faces to be seen.

This limited run closes December 6, 2009

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