Review by Bob Rich
Halfway through Matthew Leavitt’s captivating production of Hamlet, the lead character says, “You would pluck out the heart of my mystery.” Four centuries after Shakespeare wrote this play, we are still unraveling this character’s mystery.
Leavitt and co-producer Liza Seneca understand how this character strikes a universal chord, expressing a spectacular emotional range as Hamlet wrestles with life’s deepest questions. Five actors of different races, genders and ages, all play Hamlet for one act each in this groundbreaking production.
Hamlet is visited by his father’s ghost, who describes how he was killed. Then, Hamlet stages a play in which the same crime that claimed his father’s life is re-enacted. He invites the royal court to attend, including the culprit himself, who runs away when he sees the crime re-created, confirming his guilt. Tragic events unfold as Hamlet seeks revenge.
Design elements are effective. Lights dim during moments of introspection. The ghost of Hamlet’s father is accompanied by otherworldly sound effects. Props provide authenticity, such as swords and hand-held lights resembling torches.
Leavitt finds the play comforting, since Hamlet finds peace in Act Five, Scene Two. Hamlet reflects on “the providence in the fall of a sparrow,” finding reassurance in cosmic answers beyond his comprehension.
This production is a wonderful, cathartic joy.
Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” is on stage Fridays at 8pm, Saturdays at 8pm, and Sundays at 3pm, through March 31 at The New American Theatre located at 1312 North Wilton Place in Hollywood. For tickets visit The6thAct.com.