Photo by Grace Feigh

From l, Timothy Edward Stampher (Rosencrantz), Jimmy Bowman (Hamlet), and Allie Costa (Guildenstern) in “Hamlet.”

Few works of art have explored our core beliefs with such poetic beauty, depth, and clarity. Hamlet still lives within us, as much as any other immortal work.

It’s a story of family. How a brother slew brother for want of his wife. And the son, now lost in grief, swears vengeance. And they are royals, and their court, rotten to the core.

Without rehashing the plot, as it plays trippingly on the tongue, it is one of revenge. Hamlet (Jimmy Bowman) doubts everything, from celestial consequence, to his place in the world. His mother Gertrude (Nicole Fabbri nails the role) questions his sanity, his uncle Claudius (John Ross Clark) his motives. Those in Hamlet’s orbit, from tragic Ophelia (Rachel Amanda Bryant succeeds with touching grace) to Rosencrantz (deftly by Timothy Edward Stampher) and Guildenstern (charismatic Allie Costa) pay a hefty price.

This is an abridged version; kudos to directors Rachel Amanda Bryant, Jimmy Bowman, and Timothy Edward Stampher for racketing the pacing up a notch. Expert lighting effects from Janette Shugart and Grace Feigh heightened the tension. The appearance of the ghost is especially well done.

This is a more intimate version of Hamlet. For those who are not too familiar with the material, a great starting point. For those who know it well, an appealing interpretation.

We still ask ourselves, “To be or not to be?” And is it “nobler to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune?” But we do remember, and remember well. To recall the name and fall under its spell. Recommended.

Hamlet runs through Aug. 4 at Studio City Stages located at 11101 Ventura Blvd. Bay #6. For tickets call (818) 934-1485 or visit murmurtheatre.com.

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