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What did you think of HAMLET?

What was it like to see Hamlet in such a bare-bones manner? Let us know what you thought about Hamlet by commenting here.

31 Comments

  1. Shauna ManningOctober 11, 2012 at 10:56 am

    I saw the play Hamlet last night at the Paramount in Boston. It was exceptionally well done! Not only were the cast top notch, but the costumes and set design were very creative and led to more focus on the play. The set was minimal, with the cast participating in set changes that were interwoven into the play. The costumes were well thought out–with slight changes, an actor could change character very quickly. The entire play flowed very well with these set and costume changes. I highly recommend this performance!

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    • Marlene O'BrienOctober 22, 2012 at 12:18 pm

      “What was it like to see Hamlet in such a bare-bones manner?” Personally, I felt the production was wonderfully lavish and rich in every way, not bare-bones but authentic, with educated, gifted actors who understood the meaning of their roles and lines and brought Shakespeare to life in an elegant, yet casual manner. The rotations and pacing certainly were authentic. Sunday afternoon’s performance ended with an immediate stnading ovation for the entire cast, an ovation that continued as the individual actors came forward to bow — rare in my theater-going experience. Our 14-year-old daughter, Regina, raved that the actors spoke so clearly & expressively that she could follow, & she found the scene with the play within the play especially intriguing & at times very funny. She and I both hope Emerson will present more of this acting company’s productions — “King Lear”? — in the near future.. Boston needs this!

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  2. kristi@thekristiprojOctober 11, 2012 at 4:04 pm

    This was hands down the best production of Hamlet I have ever seen. The production was seamless from top to bottom.

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  3. Thomas A. KaneOctober 11, 2012 at 4:25 pm

    WOW! I agree with the other critics. This is a fresh, dynamic and bold Hamlet. The entire production moves in The Globe manner. I have been to The Globe in London many times and the move to the Paramount exceeded my expectations. The most accessible Hamlet yet!

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  4. Judi TaylorOctober 11, 2012 at 9:53 pm

    My students and I loved the performance. We’ll have a great class next week picking our favorite actors!
    Bravo !!

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  5. bethann iannicelliOctober 12, 2012 at 3:07 pm

    the sets, the musical accompaniments, the costumes and cast were all wonderful together. for a relatively long play it moved along at a brisk pace and just kept going. the actors had a fantastic grasp of the wordplay and cadence so critical to a great production of an shakespeare play.

    the bright lights in the auditorium took a bit for me to adjust, and frankly, i think i still would have preferred it dimmer. a trifling comment for a terrific evening.

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  6. I felt like I was seeing Hamlet for the first time…and this is coming from someone who acted in it in college, teaches it once a year, and has seen countless productions over the years. The pacing was especially fantastic. I have never seen a company attempt a jig after a tragedy, but it worked so well. Thank you for bringing this wonderful production to Boston!

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  7. Joshua RifkinOctober 13, 2012 at 11:33 am

    The speed of the production was bracing and persuasive, as was a youthful, mercurial, and energetic Hamlet.

    Details, though, were often less successful: the generic music, the dumbed-down anachronistic bits, the “cross-cutting” in the players’ scene, which was too plainly necessitated by the reduced casting. Indeed, for all the virtues of a “pocket” Hamlet, one lost the important dimension of the play taking place in a court, with witnesses to the drama — this is, after all, ultimately, a political drama.

    Also, in the balcony at least the text was often barely comprehensible. Even my wife, who knows the play virtually word-for-word, often missed a lot.

    So: I’d like to see the same concept better realized.

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  8. tuesday thomasOctober 13, 2012 at 12:55 pm

    I loved this interpretation of Hamlet. The performance was very energetic and fast paced. Perfect for introducing Shakespeare to a younger crowd and great for anyone already familiar with his work. The cast really brought out the comedic aspects without compromising the somber spirit of the play. I highly recommend it.

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  9. Michael McPhersonOctober 13, 2012 at 1:05 pm

    Bravo! I almost decided to skip the performance because I was exhausted from the week, but I’m so glad I didn’t! One of the best performances ever of a play I’ve seen at least 20 times. The first scene was a little stiff, but after that the actors pulled it together and moved forward with authenticity, passion, and a dramatic velocity that never felt forced or phony. Strong performances all around, even with actors in multiple roles, and the music was exceptional. Thank you!

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  10. A question: what was the last line that Claudius spoke before intermission?

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  11. Carolyn GregoryOctober 14, 2012 at 11:08 am

    This was an extraordinary HAMLET! Acting across the board was excellent and fabulous particularly by lead actors, Michael Benz as Hamlet and Dickon Tyrrell as Claudius/Ghost/King. I loved the spareness of the production because it felt authentic to me, not over stuffed with 21st century American hoopla, refreshing to see. I had a stellar seat in the second row and was really able to follow everything on-stage — what a treat! The use of music and play within a play movements worked beautifully. Though HAMLET is a long Shakespearean play, it most certainly contains some of Shakespeare’s greatest poetry and as I am both a widely published poet and theatre/music reviewer, I really have nothing to fault in this production. The psychological underpinnings were terrific, keeping us apprised of Hamlet’s youth and the overwhelming nature of his losses within his own nature as prince. Fantastic and triumphant production on every level of performance. Also loved Carlyss Peer’s Ophelia and Christopher Saul’s Polonius. HAPPY to be an Emerson subscriber this year!

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  12. Whoosh! And in the rush of energy expended, and in the razor-sharp movement, and the mesmerizing performances (especially that of Michael Benz), the words and ideas and passions were given their due. The prologue to the “Murder of Gonzago” was all by itself worth the price of admission. Brilliant stuff, folks…many thanks (for this and for Sequence 8 — bring back both Seven Fingers and the Globe!).

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  13. Caroline ChristianOctober 14, 2012 at 2:30 pm

    The cast got a standing ovation.

    Many thanks – I ‘d liketo slip in and
    see this production and cast
    again.

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  14. Bob PetrucciOctober 14, 2012 at 7:39 pm

    Hands down the best Hamlet my wife and I have ever seen. The emotional range is much greater than usual; there are many “ups” to set off the “downs.” This makes it easier to develop a feeling for the characters — to really care for them. And so I cried at the end, which I had never done at a performance of Hamlet before. Others nearby were crying, too. And I loved the way the traditional post-finale jig returned us all — the actors and the audience — to life.

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  15. Marc PruferOctober 15, 2012 at 8:23 am

    I enjoyed the production very much! The truthfulness of the telling especially. We will be seeing more of the remarkable young man who played Hamlet — his portrayal was in tune with the neurosis suffered and the clarity and emotion of his acting brought new meaning to the role — not the staid old contemplation of the skull.

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  16. I was awestruck by the power of the performers and the stunning simplicity of the production. I couldn’t stop talking about it for hours. While I have read and discussed the play, I have never seen it performed. These performances added so much to my understanding of all of the characters, especially Ophelia.

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  17. Barrie GleasonOctober 15, 2012 at 11:20 am

    I was at the Sunday matinee, sitting in the third row. The production was rich and intimate. The young man who played Hamlet really seemed to be Hamlet. The other actors were riveting and believable as well. The experience was so moving that I was in tears at the end.

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  18. Overall, I enjoyed the performance on Sunday afternoon. I did have some trouble hearing the dialogue at times from the balcony, and sometimes I got the impression that the actors were rushing through the lines. I really liked the setting, costumes, and props. The actor playing Hamlet was ok; I honestly thought he was upstaged by the actor playing Laertes. I would actually like to see the show again from the orchestra and see if I get a different feel from it.

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  19. i thought it was excellent. i was very glad i went. Hamlet was generally persuasive, and the 3 older actors were superb.
    the doubling and tripling worked well. its a great play, well directed, produced and acted.

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  20. Druid Errant TloogOctober 15, 2012 at 5:36 pm

    I had only experienced this play thru film versions so tho familiar with the story etc was completely enthralled w/the acting of, really, the whole cast.The use of the live music was a brilliant touch throughout but was especially effective at the conclusion as the dead were resurrected and joined in the dance with the audience clapping in time.The exchange that occurred between the audience and cast at that moment was palpable and most enjoyable.It was a auspicious beginning to my subscription.Huzzah and Bravo !!

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  21. Great production of Hamlet! Thank you Globe Theatre and ArtsEmerson! Terrific acting all around. Special bravo to Carlyss Peer as Ophelia: you have amazing talent and a bright future as an actress. Congratulations and thank you for bringing Hamlet alive like never before.

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  22. Steve LeahyOctober 16, 2012 at 7:21 am

    A very well-done production that moved swiftly. I thought the bare-bones approach might not work but it did. Cast very good including the energetic Hamlet, but all the actors could project a little better – hard to hear at times. Hamlet nailed all his soliloquies.

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  23. The Plays the Thing! This performance was very, very well done. The cast was energetic and versatile with smooth, innovative transitions from scene to scene, character to character. Michael Benz was outstanding in one of the more difficult roles in theater. Dickon Tyrrell demonstrated great range in a variety of characters. The Palace theater is a wonderful venue for a Globe type production – every seat is a great seat. Bravo.

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  24. Fabulous! A brisk energetic production – almost not a tragedy.

    One caveat: the show is actually 3 hours long with one 15 min intermission (not 2.5 hours). This is useful information to get correct.

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  25. Sheila GleesonOctober 20, 2012 at 2:22 pm

    Thanks to the Globe Theater and Arts Emerson for a thoroughly enjoyable night and a superb production of Hamlet that was enjoyed by our family. I hope to see the Globe players in Boston again soon.

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  26. Helen ZinterOctober 20, 2012 at 2:31 pm

    Spouse and I have seen Hamlet several times, but never like this! We were very moved by the emotions projected by ALL the characters – yes, and special kudos to Michael Benz. There was nothing we did not love! We have attended several wonderful plays at the Shakespeare’s Globe in London – the reason for our choice to attend this fabulous production of Hamlet – and we were not disappointed. Should add that, in addition, the Paramount Theater renovation was spectacular! We won’t forget this Hamlet!

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  27. tasha molnarOctober 21, 2012 at 12:28 pm

    we thought the play was terrific, but sadly in our seats in the balcony we lost some dialogue (too fast) and it was FREEZING. We complained about the cold (as did many around us) at the intermission, but it was still cold in the second half. Given it was a warm day, we did not have jackets or coats and the cold really took the edge off what was a brilliant performance.

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  28. We LOVED this production! We’ve seen “Hamlet” performed at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival where it seemed to be uniformly overwrought and dark. In last night’s performance, the actors demonstrated a greater range of emotions, and that made the whole performance really enjoyable. We ere impressed with the staging and the way they used the minimal props to evoke the context of the situation. At times the actors spoke their lines very quickly, making it difficult to hear the dialog, but overall we loved the show.

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  29. George ChimentoOctober 24, 2012 at 5:10 pm

    My wife and I were enchanted. Instead of a morose and mature fellow in tights, we saw a University student – the real Hamlet.
    Michael Benz is brilliant. Although we should all worship at the throne of Olivier, Sir Laurence, in the semi-Victorian year of 1948, made this so dreary.

    The Shakespeare plays were meant for entertainment. We were entertained. All of us in the theater were standing and clapping after the final act.

    Honorable mentions, in addition to Benz:

    Miranda Foster. She is Queen Gertrude. And a solid B + in that role, simply on looks and demeanor. But, as a grave digger (the actors play multiple roles in this creative performance) she is electric. John Wayne played all of ihs roles as the same person. Miranda is no John Wayne. With a shovel and a bawdy grin, she is a different human than the Queen. Kudos.

    Christopher Saul: He is Polonius, and a fellow grave digger when called upon. There are some performers who just make it seem easy. Sinatra never worried an audience about hitting the notes; and Saul just makes an audience relax. You don’t worry if he can perform. He is a master. Sorry that he was stabbed. Glad to see him resurrected with Yorrick.

    They are all wonderful, Carlyss Peer is a wonderful Ophelia, and Tom Lawrence (Horatio) really seems like a good buddy, We just regret the entire cast is out of our lives now. we have never felt that way when leaving the theater. and thank the company, and Emerson, for a wonderful few hours.

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  30. I was curious to see this production of Hamlet, since it was advertized as less formal.
    I enjoyed the production and the music and dancing, with touches of comedy. Not really expected in Hamlet.
    The case did an excellent job. Very well done.

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