When: May 11-15 2016
It’s a daunting premise, but one that the cast of director Mark Jackson’s Hamlet pulled off with wild success: seven actors learned every part in the play, and, minutes before show time, assembled on stage to pick their roles out of a prop skull. After a few minutes of preparation, the show began. The production opened at Shotgun Players (1901 Ashby Ave., Berkeley) on March 31 and will run through May 15, with regular repertory performances after that. But with 5,040 possible casting combinations, it’s likely that no two performances will be the same. For the most part, the unconventional casting allowed the audience to experience the nuances of the play’s key relationships — such as those between Ophelia and her father, Gertrude and Claudius, and Hamlet and, well, everybody — without being clouded by preconceived notions about how men, women, lovers, or families are supposed to relate to one another. Shotgun Players’ Hamlet is an exhilarating journey, and one that manages to stoke the audience’s appreciation for the very mechanics of theater while its powerhouse cast brings new vitality — and vigor — to a well-known play.
Sarah Elizabeth Adler