You may have seen William Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” more than once, but you have not seen how FOUR CLOWNS PRESENTS HAMLET under the direction of Turner Munch. This play is now in performance Fridays and Saturdays through October 10, 2015, at the Shakespeare Center of Los Angeles.
FOUR CLOWNS PRESENTS HAMLET does not follow the play the way The Bard wrote it, although the basic story remains. This company of nine performers is quite physical, loud, and silly, and present you with a “Hamlet” that is imaginative, fast, and entertaining. Through bumps, thumps, and jumps that may end up spilling “poison” on the stage, this group of actors tell you the story of a prince who misses his father to the point of lunacy, and not without its share of sweet moments.
The theater at the Shakespeare Center is intimate, so the action is close to you. It is something that the company takes advantage of, since one of their goals is to involve the audience in the experience. This means that every so often an actor may end up right in front of you, to show you, for example, his tight abs right before a sword fight. However, don’t be afraid; you won’t be asked to recite Hamlet’s famous monologue. Hamlet (Andrew Eiden) does that himself, managing to keep the mood light even in the middle of such a passionate soliloquy. While the entire cast is quite talented, Connor Kelly-Eiding as Horatio and Joe DeSoto and his magnificent weird eyes as the Ghost and as Laertes are really a pleasure to watch.
The stage for this production is simple. Still, the set and props designer Alexandra Giron deserves a mention. The introduction of the Ghost at the start of the play, for example, surrounded by a substantial measure of flowing white fabric is captivating. Between her work and the one of lighting designer Mcleod Benson, a beautiful moment is achieved in the interpretation of Ophelia’s drowning.
This lightened-up version of “Hamlet” may be less serious than the original, but it still requires you to know Shakespeare’s version. There are scenes – the play performed in front of the Royal Court, for example – that need knowledge of the original work to truly be understood. FOUR CLOWNS PRESENTS HAMLET is counting with your awareness of The Bard’s story.
Fresh, enjoyable, and just 90-minutes long, this is a show that every “Hamlet” fan will enjoy.
The Shakespeare Center of Los Angeles is located at 1238 W. 1st Street in Los Angeles, CA 90026. All performances are at 8 p.m. Tickets are $12 – $15 by calling (562) 508-1788 or visiting FourClowns.org