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  Hamlet Reviews
Hamlet
Hamlet

Hamlet
Chicago Shakespeare Theater
Thru - Jun 9, 2019

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Chicago Shakespeare Theater

  • Highly Recommended
  • Recommended
  • Somewhat Recommended
  • Not Recommended

Chicago Tribune- Highly Recommended

"...I’ve seen more ambitious versions of “Hamlet” (and riskier Hamlets). And the macro themes inarguably deserve more. But this is still a very likable, clear and graspable show. Jones has a humility you don’t usually see in Hamlets; he’s a regular guy and thus empathetic and vulnerable. Here, the show bucks the current trend of maximalist tragedians, and of directors creating monsters where the author intended ambiguity. There are no histrionics or melodramatics here; Aldridge’s Gertrude comes with a palpable sadness, it’s a performance that is layered with a wish that things where were different. Nicks’ Ophelia (and Paul Deo Jr.’s Laertes) are perhaps too passive, although the show makes the case that they never really get much of a chance to be otherwise. You mourn Ophelia, when she goes. And I don’t mean to the nunnery. This is an especially emotional “Hamlet.” Even Rosencrantz (Alex Goodrich) and Guildenstern (Samuel Taylor) seem to have hearts."
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Chris Jones



Chicago Sun Times- Highly Recommended

"...As Hamlet explains his plan to reveal his uncle's guilt, the lights come up abruptly, putting a glare on everyone in the audience. It's seems unlikely that any murderers are among Chicago Shakes' patrons. But surely everyone is hiding something. The sudden, harsh illumination that accompanies Hamlet's "the play's the thing/Wherein I'll catch the conscience of the king" speech exposes an audience that's been hidden in shadow. That unforgiving light makes Claudius and everyone around him feel horribly exposed."
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Catey Sullivan



Chicago Reader- Highly Recommended

"...Director Barbara Gaines gives us the truth of Hamlet in a context all too familiar to Chicago: Here is a man ripped from his heritage, plummeting into a tragic destiny with sparse options. There's a method to the madness indeed."
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KT Hawbaker



Windy City Times- Highly Recommended

"...The Hamlet portrayed by Maurice Jones for this Chicago Shakespeare Theater production bears no resemblance to Laurence Oliver's defining mid-20th-century portrait of the Danish prince as a Byronesque neurasthenic, thrashing in existential agony around his parents' castle and beating up his girl friend. Instead, director Barbara Gaines has stripped Shakespeare's text of half its uncut length to now clock in at two and a half hours of suspenseful introspection blossoming into violence discharged with razor-edged efficiency and nary a trace of actorly flourish."
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Mary Shen Barnidge



Chicago On the Aisle- Highly Recommended

"...Though it's a complex and probing self-examination, even if perhaps redundant at this point in the play, I would happily have indulged the extra few minutes to hear Jones' deliver it. His adroit Hamlet is one to be savored in full measure: clever enough to catch the conscience of the King and reason enough to catch this show."
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Lawrence B. Johnson



Stage and Cinema- Highly Recommended

"...Though it's a complex and probing self-examination, even if perhaps redundant at this point in the play, I would happily have indulged the extra few minutes to hear Jones' deliver it. His adroit Hamlet is one to be savored in full measure: clever enough to catch the conscience of the King and reason enough to catch this show."
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Lawrence Bommer



Let's Play at ChicagoNow- Highly Recommended

"...This production is a bold, inventive and remarkable retelling of Hamlet and Maurice Jones does an extraordinary job as the grieving son seeking retaliation for his father. As always Larry Yando delivered an excellent performance; this time with his spin on Polonius with perfect comedic timing."
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Rick and Brenda McCain



Around The Town Chicago- Highly Recommended

"...It is always difficult to speak about an entertaining theatrical experience that deals with revenge, passion and deception, but this is the “jist” of Shakespeare’s enduring masterpiece, “Hamlet”. This new version, staged by Artistic Director Barbara Gaines, takes us into the story of Prince Hamlet ( a sterling performance by Maurice Jones) and his fury over his father’s death and his mother, Gertrude ( Karen Aldridge) marrying his uncle Claudius (deftly handled by Tim Decker). Hamlet had been visited by his father’s ghost and swore to avenge his murder."
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Alan Bresloff



NewCity Chicago- Somewhat Recommended

"...Two things don’t work: the petulance of a sassy Ophelia wrecks the authenticity of her madness. And the intrusion of celestial music during moments such as Hamlet’s act three soliloquy makes an audience feel played upon like the cheap pipe Hamlet rails against the scene after."
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Irene Hsiao



Chicago Theatre Review- Highly Recommended

"...“Hamlet” may be the one play that everyone knows. From the time they’re in high school, theatergoers will have read, studied and experienced many productions in Chicago, if not beyond. This is Shakespeare’s most popular tragedy, and offers a role that every actor worth his salt aspires to play. That makes this production all the more noteworthy. Elegantly directed by Artistic Director Barbara Gaines, this version will be remembered for a long time, with its splendid, talented cast, dignified splendor and much-appreciated comic moments. Truly, as Hamlet says, “The play is the thing.”"
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Colin Douglas



Chicagoland Theater Reviews- Highly Recommended

"...Patrons who have attended multiple versions of the play will find their understanding of the play refreshed and expanded. Newcomers will find its narrative power a revelation. This “Hamlet” would be a great introduction for newcomers to the Shakespearean canon, especially student audiences who may think the plays are dated and difficult to understand. Will they be in for a happy surprise!"
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Dan Zeff



The Fourth Walsh- Somewhat Recommended

"...Jones does a fine job in the lead. His Hamlet seems less tortured and more annoyed than traditional portrayals of the role. That choice gives more gravity to his actions yet less emotion to the drama. He doesn’t come unhinge. Jones delivers confident calculations."
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Katy Walsh



Third Coast Review- Highly Recommended

"...It’s my controversial opinion that you can’t ever truly “spoiler” something. If the work is of worth, then the journey to the ending will render it impactful even if you already know the ending. So, on the eve of Avengers: Endgame I found myself at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater on Navy Pier fully knowing the wretched fate of everyone save Horatio. And yet, I feel my time was fully worthwhile. The Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s amazing cast and crew bring Hamlet to life and then some, filling the space between words with great physicality, gravity and humor in turn so that no moment ever feels empty."
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Marielle Bokor



Chicago Theater and Arts- Highly Recommended

"...The production really succeeds because Jones is so good at Hamlet, he’s fine in modern dress rather than period costume as he sincerely becomes a distressed son whose father is killed by a brother and whose mother then marries, possibly unknowingly, her husband’s murderer."
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Jodie Jacobs



Chicago On Stage- Highly Recommended

"...Gaines’ direction, as one would expect, is inventive and well-paced. She is savvy enough to understand that directing a Shakespearean tragedy is often as much about the little moments (Ophelia and Laertes mouthing Polonius’ oft-given speech along with him, Hamlet “auditioning” various actors to play his uncle in the play-within-a-play, the Wittenberg crew and their goofy fraternity-like greeting, etc.) as it is about the big ones. And her attention to detail makes this a rich and engaging production. From the initial scenes with the ghost to the swordplay brilliantly choreographed by Matt Hawkins, this Hamlet keeps the audience enthralled. Despite our familiarity with the source material, the play is full of delightful little surprises. The set, too, a fairly straightforward Scott Davis design, has a few tricks up its sleeves. So does Robert Wierzel’s lighting, which finds just the right moments to highlight characters in soft pools of light."
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Karen Topham



PicksInSix- Highly Recommended

"...Artistic Director Barbara Gaines’s spirited new offering–the brisk and engrossing production of “Hamlet,” now playing at Chicago Shakespeare Theater—is extremely accessible, linear and concise, with considerable attention to our comprehension of the text. While the play explores the outer margins of meaning, we are allowed to check numerous emotional boxes before proceeding deeper into the story, scoring at a refreshingly high level of understanding with a universally top-flight cast."
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Ed Tracy



Picture This Post- Highly Recommended

"...Hamlet is fixated on how death unites all living things and gives several speeches about it. The production’s signature and sweetest moment is when he finally finds people who understand where he’s coming from. Mike Nussbaum and Greg Vinkler play two elderly gravediggers who banter philosophy while pushing aside the remains of their friends to make room for the younger people. Nussbaum’s delivery is casual, friendly, and reassuring. It’s the kind of moment, in this writer’s view Hamlet could have used much earlier in the play and is still welcome despite being tragically too late."
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Jacob Davis



Rescripted- Highly Recommended

"...This entire production glimmers with shining performances from a number of players. Hamlet is a dark play and finding the laughter is a necessity. Several actors deliver that much-needed release. Larry Yando's Polonius is the ultimate embarrassing dad and Sean Allan Krill is a grounded Horatio with a sharp sense of humor. The most satisfying pallet cleanser is found in Mike Nussbaum as the gravedigger. His stage presence is instantly calming and his command of the scene from a folding chair is a delightful change of pace from Hamlet's overall intensity."
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Sierra Carlson