Opal Alladin and Grantham Coleman in "Hamlet." Photo by Jim Cox
The very language of Hamlet, transcendent in its exploration of human beings’ deepest and most fraught emotions, assures its resonance in any context and any iteration. Further, its dark psychology and currents of madness and revenge make it breathless theater. The Old Globe’s Summer Shakespeare Festival production directed by Barry Edelstein takes full advantage of Hamlet’s complex enticements – exploiting with atmosphere and chills its hazy ghost story; manifesting its oedipal underpinnings (a marriage bed, along with a colossal armored figure in gold, are the chief set pieces); and giving us a Hamlet (Grantham Coleman) who, though seeming more manic than mad, is an intense and energized presence, whether inhabiting his revenge or looking into his soul.
Elsewhere, Talley Beth Gale’s Ophelia-gone-mad sequence is a flashpoint of the evening on the outdoor Festival Stage, while the always reliable Patrick Kerr is a suitably sputtering Polonius, and Cornell Womack and Opal Alladin a brazen Claudius and Gertrude.
Penetrating but also entertaining in its theatricality, this is a Hamlet suitable for this summer’s sweltering nights when who knows “what dreams may come”? (Review originally published in San Diego CityBeat on 8/16/17.)
David L. Coddon is theater critic for San Diego CityBeat