Flights of angels


By William Shakespeare
Directed by John Basil
American Globe Theatre
145 W. 46th St. (869-9809)
Equity showcase (closes Dec. 3)
Review by Julie Halpern

Hamlet, perhaps more than any of Shakespeare's plays, continues to excite and intrigue audiences with its themes of obsessive love, murder, suicide, madness and revenge. The play is full of polarities of faithfulness versus treachery, chastity versus incest, and the basic opposition of good and evil. Throughout history, the finest actors of the day - from Barrymore to Burton to Branaugh - have taken on this most challenging of roles. American Globe's magnificent new production sets a new standard of excellence, with stunning performances contributed by all, most notably Dennis Turney as Hamlet.

Turney fearlessly explored every mercurial aspect of the Danish prince's psyche in a passionately monumental performance. A handsome, spectacularly athletic actor, his Hamlet will be remembered for a long time to come. His Ophelia, Kathleen Early, was a fragile, intense beauty, whose intense, high-energy mad scene was galvanizing. Scott Eck's sensual, commanding Claudius, and Elizabeth Keefe's glamorous, charismatic Gertrude were an extraordinarily compelling power couple.

Stanley Harrison with his beautifully modulated speaking voice, added a touch of grace to the pompous old windbag Polonius. Justin Lewis was a virile, dashing Laertes, contributing the highest level of swordplay in his duel with Turney. Graham Stevens lent gravity and sensitivity to the faithful Horatio. Tim Cooper's imposing presence and sonorous voice made for a fabulous ghost. Michael Bachmann and Jonathan Dewberry were earthy and entertaining as the gravediggers. Rusty Tennant was an over-the-top fop as the effeminate Osrick. Hall Snowday was outstanding as Voltemand, and in two smaller roles. Robert Chaney's Rosencrantz and Dan Matisa's Guildenstern intensified the alienation between Hamlet and Claudius in their well-crafted portrayals.

Director John Basil guided his exceptional ensemble with confidence and energy, and Dan O'Driscoll's complex fight choreography was executed to perfection by the beautifully trained cast. Terry Leong created gorgeous Elizabethan costumes, many made of leather, which were flattering to the actors and lent a rock-star persona to the men. Elizabeth Keefe's wardrobe was sexy and elegant, and Early was an ethereal vision in her diaphanous garb. J. Reid Farrington's evocative lights enhanced the nightmarish vision of Vincent A. Masterpaul's set, and Scott O'Brien's wonderfully eerie music and sound effects completed the ominous ambience.

Box Score:

Writing: 2

Directing: 2

Acting: 2

Set: 2

Costumes: 2

Lighting/Sound: 2

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Copyright 2000 Julie Halpern