Monday, October 27, 2008

Hamlet Sees Favorite Ghost in Grass Valley

“Hamlet” may not be the most difficult of Shakespeare’s plays to perform—“King Lear” and “Titus Andronicus” make it look like a Sunday morning stroll. But it’s among the easiest to mess up. As soon as an actor says, “To be or not to be,” it’s hard to suppress a giggle. “Hamlet” is also the most baffling of the lot, having generated what John Gielgud described as “the ‘Hamlet’ industry,” which produces that avalanche of literary criticism aimed at defining what Shakespeare was driving at. Is Hamlet mad or just faking madness? What should he have done, how and when?

So it’s a joy to see Nevada City’s Foothill Theatre Company taking on this daunting play. During summers this highly professional company has been offering a Shakespeare Festival in Grass Valley. Three years ago I reviewed a particularly effective production there of “Macbeth,” which superstitious actors call “The Scottish Play,” in the belief that it’s jinxed. This “Macbeth” obviously escaped the spell.

The current production of “Hamlet” should also be memorable. Directed by Scott W. Gilbert, it features veteran Gary Wright as Hamlet, with five seasoned professionals, including Eric Wheeler in supporting roles. (See picture.)

“Hamlet” continues through November 23 at the Off Center Stage, The Center for the Arts, 315 Richardson Street, Grass Valley. Performances are Thursday 7:00 pm, Friday & Saturday 8:00 pm, and Sunday 2 p.m. Tickets are $28-$31, with discounts available. Call the box office at (530) 265-8587. For orders on line and more information, click the title of this post.

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