What keeps us entranced each moment in this familiar retelling of the brooding Dane's story is witnessing Estrella intently doing the same. Unlike other Hamlets, this one seems to be muttering aloud one long interior monologue throughout. It's more like we're privy to his thoughts rather than listening to speeches. That's not surprising with the most familiar soliloquy, "To be or not to be, that is the question", since that's explicitly a meditation. But while Estrella all but snaps his fingers at the start, like he has just then solved a quandary, he seamlessly continues its emotional insight into the next scene.

In this way, Hamlet's "Get thee to a nunnery!" charge to Ophelia becomes heartfelt imploring rather than petulant, as he begs her to have nothing to do with men like him, broken louts who will break her heart. Poignant stuff. What could be ordinary anger is now sad, ironic generosity.

Such a treat. Shakespeare's greatest work and the Gamm's finest hour. Catch Estrella in another 50 years and enjoy him as another terrific Polonius.

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  Topics: Theater , Joe Short, HAMLET, Ben Gracia,  More more >
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