Regional Reviews: Cleveland & Akron
Hamlet holds its own on local stages and audiences still rush to watch productions of Shakespeare's classic. The script has survived more than 400 years, yet it still appeals. The story deals with murder, ghosts, infidelity, sword fights, and power strugglesall of those topics modern audiences hold near and dear.
Claudius (Alex Nine) murders his brother, the King. Claudius becomes the King and marries Gertrude (Elizabeth Allard). A tension develops between Prince Hamlet (Alex Funk) and the new King. Hamlet thinks his mother and Claudius have married much too soon after the death of Hamlet's father. Ophelia (Cait McNeal) is pursued by Hamlet, but Hamlet seems to be losing his mind as the romance between the two unravels. However, Ophelia's mind is slipping away and finally results in her suicide.
Alex Funk struggles to make the title role belong to him. Perhaps more rehearsal, more understanding of the story, and a stronger attack on the role would help. Of course, everyone who has ever seen Hamlet is sure of how the role should be played.
Scott Crim as Polonius brings one of the most infamous fathers in all dramatic literature to the stage. Crim makes Polonius sympathetic but given the gift of too much gab. Joseph Kenderes has played a variety of roles in theaters from Cleveland to Akron to Medina. As Horatio, he has a strong voice and a body capable of the physical demands of the play. Sean Taylor plays Fortinbras, Player King, and Barnardo in this production. Taylor is tall, well over six feet. He has a beautiful bass voice, which rolls through Shakespeare's iambic pentameter as if he owned the lines.
The show has obnoxious music playing as pre-show entertainment. Music from the Elizabethan era would be more appropriate to prepare the audience for the spirit of the show. The critics write that directors want to leave their mark on Shakespeare. They should work to let Shakespeare leave his mark on the audience. Dane Leasure directs this production, and his cast make most characters distinct. Unfortunately, some of the actors playing supporting roles become lost in the melodrama that is Hamlet, struggling to maintain their characters' identities.
Rubber City Theatre has moved to The Black Box on Romig Road, which is a large room, capable of comfortably seating more than 125 people, with a stage and several platform areas. The large parking lot is well lighted and safe.
Rubber City Theatre's Hamlet, through October 22, 2017, at The Black Box, 2207 Romig Road. For ticket and information, call 234-252-0272 or visit www.rubbercitytheatre.com. Following Hamlet, the Rubber City Theatre will offer A Christmas Carol December 1 - 23, 2017.