The Bay Colony Shakespeare Company kicked off its second season of existence with an ambitious mounting of "Hamlet." The performance that I attended was presented at the beautifully restored Chevalier Theater in Medford Square. Subsequent performances will be held in Cotuit, Newton and Quincy (see below for details) .
Given the enormous challenges involved in producing a credible production of Hamlet, I applaud Artistic Director Neil McGarry and Director Ross MacDonald for their ambitious reach in only the second season of this acting troupe. While my overall experience was positive in viewing this "Hamlet," it is clear that there still remain some areas of stretching and growing for the company and some of its cast members.
The cast members are:
James Bocock - Polonius, et al.
Cameron Beaty Gosselin - Laertes, Rosencrantz
Tom Grenon - Cladius, Ghost
Elizabeth Hartford - Ophelia
Alexander Joseph - Bernardo, Guildenstern, et al.
Ross Magnant -Hamlet
Erica Simpson - Horatio, et al.
Meredith Stypinski - Gertrude
Let me highlight a few of the positives.
- The costuming by Deirdre McCabe Gerrand was excellent, and created the atmosphere one would expect for a period piece of this nature.
- Tom Grenon as Claudius and the ghost of Hamlet's father is flawless in his portrayal of these two roles. He plays Shakespeare as a good American actor should play Shakespeare. He speaks the archaic language in the tones and rhythms of everyday speech, and the audience attunes itself to those rhythms and makes sense of what is being said.
- Elizabeth Hartford plays a very effective and heart-breaking Ophelia. Her mad scene is a highlight of this production.
- Erica Simpson as Horatio is a steady presence on the stage, standing by Hamlet through thick and thin and cradling his body in his death scene. She is very credible in the role.
- Cameron Beaty Gosselin plays both Laertes and Rosncrantz with a nuanced touch - covering the emotional ground from comedy to rage with great facility and passion.
- Ross Magnant is a young and impassioned Hamlet. It took me a few scenes to warm up to Mr. Magnant's portrayal of the troubled Dane. His facial expressions in the opening scenes reminded me of a petulant and spoiled child. But I saw the child grow into man as he wrestled with his multiple existential dilemmas. With one exception, which I will address below, his performance is a strong one and promises Boston area audiences many more strong performances in the future.
- I loved the subtle atmospheric sounds that spilled out from behind stage whenever the ghost would appear. It is a nice touch.
This problem did not prevent this groundling from enjoying the play and applauding the terrific work of many of those involved. But it did prevent me from walking away with a total sense of delight. "Tis a consummation devoutly to be wished."
I look forward to following the arc of this young theater company as it continues to take bold chances with repertoire and to grow in its mastery of these works of art.
See below for opportunities to see this production south and west of Boston.
Hamlet, coming to the Cotuit Center For The Arts (Feb. 21 & 22), Priscilla Beach Theatre (Feb. 28, March 1 & 2), Newton Presbyterian Church (March 4) and First Presbyterian Church, Quincy (March TBA).
Bay Colony Shakespeare Website