The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis is embarking on an enormous task by presenting Hamlet for the first time ever. And, if you are a fellow lover of all things Shakespeare, what a ride you are going to take at this show!
There is so much that can be said about one of The Bard’s most famous and performed tragedies that it would take many more “Words,words, words” than are alotted here. Thousands of literary criticisms, on top of many more movies and stage productions. There are likely few fans of the Theatre that are not at least mildly familiar with the story, so we’ll skip any summation and get right to the production.
Though a fan of Shakespeare for the whole of my life, I had never before attended a stage production of Hamlet, therefore, I was eager just to see the performance, regardless of the interpretation or time period. However, I must admit I was hoping for a classic, yet freshly delivered production.
If you are hoping for the same experience, then you are in luck, because that’s what you will get.
From the costuming, which is classic, with just a hint of modern thrown in; to the minimal yet gorgeously haunting set, not a single misstep took place in this show.
Jim Poulos, who is apparently no stranger to tackling Shakespeare at The Rep, will give you a Hamlet that is loveable, devilishly sarcastic, cunningly mad, and so tortured that you cannot help but thirst for revenge along with him. He is constantly “on”; a physical manifestation of grief and madness. He is Hamlet as it should be. His dry wit and asides to the audience bring much needed comic relief to this nearly 3 hours of wonderful emotional exhaustion.
In fact, the comic relief sprinkled in by numerous characters, such as Larry Paulsen’s Polonius; Ben Nordstrom’s Osric; Ross Cowan’s Rosencrantz; and Stephen Hu’s Guildenstern; are little sips of much-needed water in a constant, throat-drying experience.
Kim Wong portrays Ophelia. Her heartbreaking transformation from innocent young lover to tortured madwoman is sure to put a glisten in your eyes.
There is no extra fluff or filler here: Just a beautiful, well-delivered show that will remind you why Shakespeare will remain immortal as the best of the best. Congratulations and thank you to director Paul Mason Barnes, and to the entire cast and crew, for creating a suspenseful, emotional journey I’d waited a few decades to take.
Hamlet runs October 11th through November 5th at The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis.