As You Like It — Hamlet Isn’t Dead
July 12th, 2018
See it if
You're up for good costumes holding up a too-long script made indecipherable by an inaudible cast. Plot and character points lost upstage.
Don’t see it if
You're expecting a clear plot, actors projecting or some idea of Amsterdam, 1943 or the Resistance in WW II.
Who knew that a long night in 1943 Amsterdam could sound like Depression-era Memphis or New Orleans? And with a rap tune thrown in to boot? Only the three-word program note gives a clue.
It's difficult to know what playwright and lead Erika Phoebus had in mind here, since the cast, quite often drowned out by the competent if weirdly joyless onstage band, didn't project vocally, leaving plot and motivations muddled. Isaac Byrne's direction seemed to take a back seat to Phoebus's energy, leaving all lax, long and unfocused.
Still, the concept of Resistance assassins as "rusalkas" — seductive, dangerous female spirits (often mermaids) luring young men to their untimely ends — according to myth, is novel. Too bad, the dip into melodrama, compounded by many things, including that extra pistol in the prologue — "Chekov's gun" may be an old the theatrical concept, but it's certainly sound.
Phoebus and Elizabeth Kensek were well matched, even if Kensek seemed lost at times, and T.E. Hackett on drums held all together.