Monday, March 25, 2013


                                Paul Giamaati as Hamlet, Photo by Joan Marcus

Paul Giamatti has endowed his Hamlet with an usual and often misunderstood attribute:  a sardonic and playful sense of humor.  He plays a fool and a clown as he seriously seeks revenge for his father's murder, he who was the King of Denmark. Donning modern dress, even at times shorts and a robe or red sneakers, he takes a distinctly different path to reveal the perfidy of his uncle, Claudius, the new king and his queen, Gertrude, Hamlet's newly widowed mother of less than two months.  Shakespearian purists need not apply.

Until Saturday, April 13, Yale Repertory Theatre will unveil the madness and mania of the Danish prince at New Haven's University Theatre, 222 York Street.  It is rumored that every seat for every performance has been sold, but try nonetheless.

Paul Giamatti's Hamlet is brilliantly crafted.  Once he meets his father's ghost and learns he was poisoned by the man who now accounts himself king, his own brother, Hamlet sets out to unmask Claudius' treachery and punish his mother Gertrude for abandoning her widow's weeds so unwisely and fast.  Assuming his own cloak of madness, Hamet acts strangely to his good friends Rosencrantz (Erik Lochtefeld) and Guildenstern (Michael Manuel), as well as to his supposed love Ophelia (Brooke Parks) and her father Polonius (Gerry Bamman) and brother Laertes (Tommy Schrider).

When a troupe of traveling actors arrive at the castle, Hamlet persuades them to put on a play so close to how Claudius (Marc Kudisch) killed his brother (also Marc Kudisch) as to cause Claudius to reveal his foul deed.  When Hamlet accuses his mother (Lisa Emery) of her infidelity, Hamlet accidentlally slays Polonius who is hiding in her room as a spy.  That act causes Ophelia to truly go mad and leads to a string of tragedies and deaths in its wake.  All that is left in the end is Hamlet's best friend Horatio (Austin Durant) to explain what has happened and why. James Bundy directs a tale that uses comedy to underscore the tragedy that consumes and dictates all of Hamlet's actions.  The set by Meredith B. Ries lends itself to the dramatic events.

For tickets ($20-96), call the Yale Repertory Theatre at 203-432-1234 or online at  Performances are Tuesday to Saturday at 7:30 p.m., with select Wednesday matinees at 2 p.m. and select Saturday matinees at 1:30 p.m.  The show is three and a half hours in length.

Follow Hamlet, the prince of Denmark, as he feigns madness to uncover the truth of his father's death and seek a justly revenge.

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