Saturday, August 09, 2008

Fringe/Bound in a Nutshell

For fans of Hamlet, Bound in a Nutshell is an exciting shakeup; for strangers to Shakespeare, it's one of the clearest tellings of this haunted tale, thanks largely to Chris Haas, whose Hamlet is violent yet fluid (like Bill Irwin). The adaptation's conflations and cuts create entirely new conflicts for the cast, and by keeping Hamlet imprisoned on stage throughout the entire show, it refocuses the play on his mental torture, and then juxtaposes it with a new, physical torture. Gregory Wolfe's ingenious staging plays each scene to the hilt: "too too solid flesh would melt" is defiantly delivered to a surveillance camera, so we can watch Claudius (Christopher Yates) and Gertrude (Kathy Keane) react to what is usually secondhand. When Hamlet yells "get thee to a nunnery," his words are unheard and unfelt by Ophelia (Monique Vukovic): she sits helplessly on the other side of a prison visitation cell's solid glass window, begging her lover to pick up the phone. Best of all is the poetic license taken with the imagery: Hamlet, strapped to a chair, being tortured into a confession of madness, sees Ophelia--who has just drowned--walk slowly and silently by. Brevity may be the soul of wit, but it's hard to keep from waxing poetic on Moonwork's fantastic production. This is what it means to adapt a play, and on a scale from 1 to 5, with 1 being "not to be" and 5 being "wondrous strange," Bound in a Nutshell gets a perfect 5.

[Read on]

No comments: