Review by Holli Harms
27 September 2016
Hamlet is a great story. A great story of revenge, heartache, betrayal.
And The Public Theatre’s Mobile Unit is great story telling. Their bare bones attack on the play allows for the words and emotions to rise to the top.
This is my second time seeing a Mobile Unit production and I am glad to have such an important Company in our city, taking Shakespeare to all five boroughs, to those who cannot make it to the theater, including those incarcerated.
Chukwudi Iwuji's Hamlet is a force to be reckoned with. He fills the room with his heartache, his anger, his confusion. Moving about like an animal caught in a cage, a dancer flying over the dance floor, an unnatural creature prowling the night.
The cast eats the space up with their teeth, their hands, their nails, biting and clawing their way through the story. At an hour and forty minutes, they have pared the play down to its essentials. Director Patricia McGregor appeals to the younger audience members with her use of modern technology, as well as modern dress and attitude. Her focus on Hamlet and his mates and Ophelia shows us how much they are like any youth, anywhere, any time – with friendships and betrayals and love and hurt and emotions raging in and around them.
The play takes place in the round, so the audience gets to see one another throughout the evening. I was lucky to be able to watch three young women directly across from me watch the play for their first time. They were so “there” with the characters, so involved with what was transpiring live in front of them, their facial expressions reacting with each line of revealing dialogue. When Hamlet died, almost at their feet, their hands went to their mouths in shock and they were frozen, silent and starring unblinkingly.
With tickets only $20 a pop, take a friend or two, young or old, theater rat or novice. Even if this would be your hundredth Hamlet, go and become utterly involved again in a great story and support this very important Company, that goes to those who would not have the chance to experience what only theater can bring – involving, emotional, collective art.
"This is a 'Hamlet' with an emphasis on speed. The text has been slimmed by about half, which can mean some choppy storytelling. But with Orlagh Cassidy as Hamlet’s mother, Gertrude, and Mr. Stickney as the usurping Claudius, the cast of nine — which includes the very funny Christian DeMarais as a dim and dudely Guildenstern — managed well in the face of obstacles like sound bleeds from outside the room."
Laura Collins-Hughes for New York Times
"Iwuji is worth many times the price of admission, even if he’s set apart from the rest of the cast by his orotund British elocution."
Sandy MacDonald for Time Out New York
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