From Pahl's Pen - An Impression of THE TRAGICAL HISTORY OF HAMLET

PAHLPITATIONS - An Intimate Journey Into the Maze of Hamlet's Mind

April 23, 2016

By Richard Pahl

I was fortunate to be invited to last night's preview performance (4/22/16) of Janus Theatre's The Tragical History of Hamlet. This promenade production is the most recent development in its series of uniquely staged theatrical events that hark back many years to the very first Walkabout.

The magicians at Janus have arranged pipe and drape to transform the Elgin Art Showcase into a maze of tiny performance spaces. The audience is led down the rabbit hole and totally focused on pure acting and Shakespeare's immortal words.

Every member of this uniquely talented cast is allowed to shine in this specific and personal interpretation. Because the setting is so intimate, much of the story is told in appropriately hushed tones. Happily the audience also occasionally thrills to the more traditional declamatory orations of Jason Lacombe as Laertes and Jim Hinton as Claudius. Melody Jefferies is particularly mesmerizing in her portrayal of the mad Ophelia. Shakespeare inserted a comic gravedigger scene to lighten the mood before the play's final tragic scenes; Kelly Bolton offers a zany take on this character.

The characters are simply clothed in modern dress with some effective details. Theatrical lighting is unnecessary in this up close staging; in fact, Janus has chosen to incorporate darkness into its production. This is intimate, minimalist, thrilling theatre. In this instance, less is most definitely more.

Richard Pahl is an actor, director, and writer, who has worked in professional, community, and college theater for close to 40 years. He has traveled the country plying his trade at various regional theaters. He was the creator of both Playwrights' Advocate and Page To Stage - incubators for new play production, where local and regional plays were commissioned and simply staged in front of live audiences, providing critical feedback for the playwrights. Pahl also served proudly on the Elgin Cultural Arts Commission from 2007-2014.