10 -The Michigan Daily- Wednesday, August 3, 1994
Stripped-down 'Hamlet' looks like it cot
By Melissa Rose Bernardo
"Hamlet" is a director's dream. It also is a
lifetime goal for an actor, and a field day for a
has also, thankfully, whittled it down to under
Monette has cut the character of Fortinbras,
eliminating all of the affairs of state that surround
thestateofDenmark. Denmarkis not acountry in
strife, and it is not taken over in the end; Hamlet
is the focus, and his conflict provides the thrust of
Monette's trimming, while controversial, is
not necessarily a mistake. It is in fact a wise
choice, considering the capabilities of Stephen
Ouimette as Hamlet. Under Monette's guidance,
Ouimette carries the weight of the production
without a single stumble, and handles the de-
mands of Shakespeare's longest role (especially
the soliloquies) admirably well. He plays Hamlet
pretty close to 20-some years old, and infuses the
soliloquies with some wonderful innovations.
Keep an eye on Ouimette in this and future
The elimination of the affairs-of-state busi-
ness has visible positive and negative repercus-
sions on the other characters. Peter Donaldson is
deprived ofthe meat of Claudius' character-his
political agility - resulting in an overall incon-
However, the focus on Hamlet makes way for
a more intriguing Horatio, manifested here in
TomMcCamus. Hamlet and Horatio's closeness
is reflected in Hamlet's artfully arranged death-
standing, supported by Horatio, evocative of
A big disappointment is Sabrina Grdevich,
who confuses Ophelia with Alice of Wonderland.
Whilehermadscenes are well-executed, she(and
Monette)made the choice of weakening Ophelia.
Compensating is Janet Wright, who empowers
Gertrude by rejecting Claudius after a chilling
(and suggestive) closet scene with Ouimette's
The other characters steadily ride back seat to
Ouimette's Hamlet. Antoni Cimolino has some
nice moments as Laertes; William Hutt adds his
comic touch as Gravedigger#1. Kevin Bundy and
Jonathan Crombie are appropriately paired as
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern (or is it the other
Monette has also done some effective rear-
ild be king
ranging -note the placement of "To be or not
be" - but his cutting still remains a point of
debate.Theprogram's summary claims thatHam-
let is bitter that Claudius, not he, occupies the
throne, yet Claudius is stripped of all outward
appearances as the King.
And as long as Monette was cutting, he might
have considered cutting "Something is rotten in
the state of Denmark," a line now devoid of its
double meaning, whose familiarity only inspi
The contemporary look of the production is
touch. Still, Monette should be proud of his
accomplishment, and even prouderof Ouimette's
Hamlet, the truly "definitive" aspect of this pro-
HAMLET runs in repertory through Sept. 17 at
the Tom Patterson Theatre in Stratford, Ontario.
this or any other production, call the Stratford
Festival Box Office at (519) 273-1600.
ally endless. The aim, then, is to make one's
particular production of "Hamlet" the definitive
"Hamlet." While it would be a stretch to call the
Stratford Festival's production "definitive," it
can easily be called entrancing, creative and pro-
Artistic directorRichard Monette(whoplayed
the title role in the festival's 1976 production)
obviously has a great affinity for the role of
Hamlet. That bond is so overpowering thathe has
-whittled "Hamlet" down to a character study. He
Continued from page 9
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