Peter Sarsgaard Is a Unique Modern 'Hamlet' at CSC

April 14, 2015 1:51 PM

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There is a new Hamlet in town, and Peter Sarsgaard has his back, giving this poetic youth of the ages a crisp, nuanced, and strikingly modern voice. This Hamlet is fresh faced and wears a hipster's suit at a wedding that could be set at trendy downtown digs. His iambic pentameter is a bit splayed out like a chicken born with legs akimbo, but it works, making Hamlet familiar, not so foreign, not so distant and entirely digestible. Austin Pendelton elegantly sets up the play in the present day with a cast of irregular suits and a dress or two. The parts of Gertrude (Penelope Allen) and Claudius (Harris Yulin) were more standard fair, both of whom I found to be up and down in their roles. Warming up much later on and then after a high moment moving quickly to a low. Not completely in command of their characters histories as the wife of the dead King Hamlet or the murdering brother of the same, while uncle and step-father to Prince Hamlet. One of the more compelling characters was played by a very wonderful Stephen Spinella as Polonius. He seemed like the modern father: ironic, possibly gay, and a bit of a parent-centric meddler in the best sense of good humor, with impeccable timing and rhythm.

His daughter played by Lisa Joyce, however, was uncommonly inadequate for the task of embodying Ophelia. Not someone that I would think Hamlet would be attracted to at any time, whether in his right or wrong mind. She seemed totally unlikeable in her pretentious naturalness; like a hippie who just s...

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