Read what they're saying!
The Richmond Times-Dispatch's Susan Haubenstock calls it:
"...an intriguing "Hamlet"...
...Most striking is the choice to have Jeffrey Cole's Hamlet speak the "To be or not to be" soliloquy to Ophelia in the midst of love-play. This has a very different effect from that of the classic downstage delivery to the audience, and while surprising, it has a truly organic feel in the context of the scene. It seems like a late-night revelation from one lover to another, and as such it is thoroughly believable.
...Cole's Hamlet is an authentic punk, from his first sullen appearance in a moss-colored hoodie through the symphony of emotions he plays for us. The performance is always intense, but it is modulated throughout the three hours of the play so that we see the many authentic moods of a young man in mourning, in fury, in love."
Style Weekly's Mary Burruss praises
..."a Spartan version of the play, a version that will appeal to Shakespeare novices and die-hard purists alike.
...Jeff Cole as Hamlet does wonderful things with the words during the famous speeches (especially the “to be or not to be” speech), a gentle rolling quality. But the play is not so word-focused that it becomes dreary.
...The focus on words in the production heightens the action that much more. A brilliantly staged fight scene between Joe Carlson’s fiery Laertes and Hamlet snaps the audience to attention. Passini creates such realistic and electrifying swordplay in the tight audience-packed space that it caused gasps of amazement (and maybe some fear) from the audience. At one point I caught myself actually looking for blood from fictional nicks on actors’ flesh."
Richmond VA Theater blog's David Timberline raves:
"...Mr. Cole is princely without being ostentatious and his extreme emotions don’t seem to emerge from an outsized personality but from a well-meaning, loving son being compelled to vengeance and acts sure to wreck his life. It is a nicely contained but still compelling portrayal.
And his relationship with his Ophelia is heartbreaking.... It doesn’t hurt that Liz Blake plays Ophelia with such a sweet devotion to her prince.
...Richmond Shakespeare’s growing tradition of adding pre-show and intermission entertainment is a great addition to their performance philosophy.
...I cannot let it go without mentioning Timothy Saukiavicus’s powerhouse performance as Claudius. He is convincingly regal but has the self-aggrandizing pomp of a true politician and the slimy edge of someone willing to kill his own brother. I’ll be hoping to see Mr. S. in more local productions in the future."
WCVE Radio's John Porter concludes:
"One aspect of Hamlet which was especially nice was seeing the work of fight choreographer Vanessa Passini as she brought the duel between Joe Carlson's Laertes and Jeffrey Cole's Hamlet to a slow boil. The energy exuded by these two fine actors along with her choreography make the three of them individuals to watch for the future.
Richmond Shakepeare's production of Hamlet has obviously been produced with great love and devotion to the play. Th actors are poised, the direction is swift, otherwise the show could run long into the night, and the climactic moments pack the right punch. I would say that the company has gotten it off to a good start for what looks like a promising season."
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