This past week I went to see Canadian Stage’s Production of Hamlet presented as part of their ‘Shakespeare in High Park’ season. This season they are performing Hamlet and All’s well that Ends Well. So today, all you wonderful people get a review of the performance courtesy of yours truly. I feel the need to preface, first, that I believe that any performance of Shakespeare is a worthy cause; and that I think there’s always something to be learned from public performance. So if you were hoping I was going to tear something apart, I apologize.
First off, I’d like to congratulate the actors in the show on making some bold choices. Hamlet is a big beast to tackle, and one with a long legacy of legendary actors; so coming at it as a performer can be downright scary. The actors in the show made strong character choices, confident moves and sure moments of audience inclusion. I really enjoyed watching them play with Hamlet in Hamlet.
I also really loved the set. It’s hard to describe but it’s beautiful. It had a modern feel without feeling out of place. A lovely cross between IKEA, modern art, and a library full of books. (I am clearly not build for set description). It was well-lit, expansive and well suited to encompass all the action. It was a great Denmark, a fine graveyard, and some lovely countryside. I can’t wait to see how the set is used for the other play.
The director made some wonderful choices and the crew worked together seamlessly. It’s a difficult show to direct for the same reason it’s a difficult show to act – so many greats have done it before. You don’t want to copy anyone, but you also want to put on a great show. I thought the artistic choices in the show were made confidently and worked well. The actors’ interaction with the set was realistic and compelling. The lighting and sound worked together with the action smoothly, and the set and scene changes ran very well. It was, technically, a very good show.
Over all, I thoroughly enjoyed my time on the hill watching Hamlet in High Park. It’s a great show and I recommend a viewing. It’s a lot of fun to be a part of a live audience and even more fun when you’re encouraged to bring a picnic.