Final weekend for Rubber City Theatre’s HAMLET

If you’ve never before seen a production of William Shakespeare’s “Hamlet,” you have one more weekend to discover a current take on it by Akron’s Rubber City Theatre.

Playing now through October 22, 2017 in their new store front location (2207 Romig Road, Akron, OH), this classic tragedy directed by Dane CT Leasure is played upon a minimal set with basic lighting, some cool sound, and several great stand-out actors.

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Cast at student matinee talk back – HAMLET

To nutshell the story: young Hamlet (Alex Funk) comes home for the funeral of his father to find his mother, Queen Gertrude (Elizabeth Allard), suddenly wed to his Uncle Claudius (Alex Nine).

With the appearance of a haunting specter, Hamlet’s friends Horatio (Joe Kenderes), Marcellius (Matthew Taft) and Barnardo (Sean Taylor) bring him to the place where Hamlet learns the truth – that his father was murdered. Revenge must be had!

From here, all goes amiss as Ophelia (Cait McNeal) falls for and is then spurned by Hamlet; Laertes (Chennelle Bryant Harris) returns from a trip to find that her sister has gone mad; Hamlet proceeds to confront his mother and accidentally kills Polonius (Scott Crim); and Hamlet’s buddies Rosencrantz (Joseph Soriano) and Guildenstern (Harris) get mixed up in everything. Again – nutshell. 

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Alex Funk as Hamlet

As with great tragedies, it is expected that “everyone dies.” So as the play ends littered with bodies, it is the journey that is the true satisfaction of the play.

Stand-out performances include McNeal’s Ophelia, Harris’ Laertes, and Kenderes’ Horatio. Each of these actors provides layers of character that sweep from joy to despair with believability and humanity. Each one of these performers pulls out soul-wrenching emotion that is breath-catching.

Although Funk’s Hamlet is attractive, young and energetic, his vocal delivery is a bit too fast-paced at times to keep up with all of the words that should be savored. “To be or not to be…” is blazed through, and there is room for more breath in the overall whole of the play.

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(From left) Joe Kenderes as Horatio, Matthew Taft as Marcellius, and Alex Funk as Hamlet

The set it is a single, unmoveable unit by Brandon Davies, with lights by Jonathon Hunter. Hazen Tobar‘s sound design makes for some spooky moments with the appearance of the Ghost. Costumes by Michele McNeal are contemporary and interesting. 

As a group, the cast gels well together and they work the lines with ease. Also, with the exception of Hamlet’s confrontation of Gertrude being delivered all upstage in a crunched place, the direction is generally smart on the small, tiered set. Leasure has the performers working the thrust space from all angles and the show is well put together.

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(From left) Helen Casebolt and Matthew Taft as Grave Diggers in HAMLET

Playing now through Oct. 22. 2017, Rubber City Theatre’s presentation of “Hamlet” isn’t a bad introduction to the world of Shakespearean tragedy. The story is clear, the actors are committed, and Rubber City Theatre has fun Shakespeare gifts for sale in the lobby to make you smile after a couple hours of heartbreak and misfortune. For tickets, call 234-252-0272, or visit www.rubbercitytheatre.com.

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