Regional Reviews: San Francisco/North Bay
Shakespeare's Hamlet is no stranger to me. I consider it to be one of the Bard's most magnificent plays, along with Richard III, Henry IV, and Henry V. I have seen the play at least six times, at the National Theatre and in Stratford-upon-Avon with such notable actors as Peter O'Toole, Richard Burton, Ian Charleson, and Simon Russell Beale. I even saw Don Donohue a few years back at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. The moody 1948 black and white film starring Lawrence Olivier won best picture and best actor Oscars.
The first Carey Perloff production of Shakespeare's tragedy is now on stage at the American Conservatory Theater on Geary Street starring John Douglas Thompson, who was amazing as Louis Armstrong in Satchmo at the Waldorf at this theater last year. Director Perloff has moved the three hour plus production into the 21st century with a less classical look. John Douglas Thompson gives a gifted and fluent performance as the Danish Prince. I could clearly hear every word from his glorious voice.
Steven Anthony Jones is extraordinary, with powerful vocal cords, as the Ghost and Claudius, and Anthony Fusco as Horatio and Dan Hiatt as Polonius are superb in their roles. Domenique Lozano is elegant as Queen Gertrude. I had trouble with Rivka Borek as Ophelia in the first scene, but I warmed up to her later. Her mad scene is brilliant. Teagle F. Bougere puts a new spin on Laertes. He plays it energetically, while Teddy Spencer and Vincent J. Randazzo play the roles of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern understatedly. Graham Beckel, who is outstanding as the Player King, gives a fabulous performance of the Gravedigger with his true Shakespearian voice. In the last scene, Jomar Tagatac is impressive as Fortinbras.
Bottom Line: Carey Perloff's three hour plus Hamlet never drags. It is a most entertaining production.
Hamlet runs through October 15, 2017, at ACT'S Geary Theater, 405 Geary Street, San Francisco, Tickets can be obtained by calling 415-749-2228 or at www.act-sf.com. Their next production at the Strand on Market Street is Bess Wohl's Small Mouth Sounds running from October 11 through December 10. The next production at the Geary Theater will be a perennial favorite, Dickens' A Christmas Carol starting on December 1 and running through December 24.