A CurtainUp Review
Hamlet. . .the rest is silencebr>
By Rich See
Perhaps you don't like Shakespeare. Perhaps you find the Bard dull and boring and slightly irrelevant. Perhaps the Old English dialogue written so long ago seems like another language and makes your head hurt when you listen to it. But let's say you're entranced by dance, especially ballet and modern; harbor a "thing" for performance art; have a passion for orchestral music that has a dash of urban funkiness while holding on to a Russian or Eastern European sensibility; and coincidentally, you adore Marcel Marceau. And then, just for fun, let's say we throw all of the above into a cocktail shaker and mix it violently. What do you get?
Hamlet . . . the rest is silence -- a wordless adaptation of William Shakespeare's intense drama about a Danish prince who is surrounded by murder and mayhem. Some of you may be raising an eyebrow of interest. Others of you might be rolling your eyes. Don't breeze over this worthwhile theatrical gem.
Synetic Theater, now in its second season, is remounting this stirring production for everyone who missed it the first go round when it won 3 Helen Hayes Awards for Best Resident Play, Best Director, and Best Choreography. It jumps, it twirls, it hits all the high notes without ever uttering a word.
Director Paata Tsikurishvili has created a flowing story that captivates the senses and propels the imagination. Georgi Alexi-Meskhishvili's set is simply black space, exceedingly spare, which gives the whole production a sense of timelessness. Only a few props, most notably a dirty skull and a variety of stretcher-like metal ladders are included in the piece. Irina Tsikurishvili's choreography is exquisite with the impeccably timed dancers moving in graceful synchronicity. Together with bleak lighting provided by Colin K. Bills, the piece alternates between an occasional light hearted moment to its anguished breathtaking peak in the last scene. The enchanting lyricism of Giya Kancheli's music speaks in ways words do not. You wish they would sell CD's in the lobby after the show.
The only major flaw in the whole production is the lack of a story synopsis in the program. Synetic seems to have taken for granted that all of its patrons will have a thorough understanding of Shakespeare's classic. Unfortunately, this is far from true, and a story breakdown could help those in need of a refresher follow the action. However, you can easily rectify this by typing "Hamlet synopsis" into your favorite search engine and reading a couple of the results. And even if you are not completely acquainted with your Bard, the acting and dancing pulls you into the story so well, that you come away with something meaningful.
The production opens with the majority of the cast lying on the metal stretchers, a dark forewarning of things to come. Paata Tsikurishvili's Hamlet is standing in the center, holding a skull, and looking forlorn. From there, the lights are blacked out and when they come on we are whisked to the court ballroom in the Danish capitol of Helsingor. Treachery, insanity, and intrigue rule the stage as the cast mime their expressions and "speak" through dance. Hamlet...the rest is silence perfectly melds the disciplines of theatre, dance, and music. A gem in the fall theatre season!
Mendes at the Donmar
At This Theater
Leonard Maltin's 2003 Movie and Video Guide
Ridiculous!The Theatrical Life & Times of Charles Ludlam
Somewhere For Me, a Biography of Richard Rodgers
The New York Times Book of Broadway: On the Aisle for the Unforgettable Plays of the Last Century
6, 500 Comparative Phrases including 800 Shakespearean Metaphors by CurtainUp's editor.
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