HAMLET by William Shakespeare, directed by Micheal Querin, with Jerry Getty, Christopher Kelk, Jane Moffat, Malcolm Xerxes, Melissa Good, Steve Coombes and Jennifer Little. Presented by A Cry of Players at Canadian Stage Upstairs (26 Berkeley). Runs to January 6, Monday-Saturday 8 pm, no performances December 25, 26 and January 1. $15, stu/srs $10, December 27 and January 2 pwyc. 368-3110. Rating: NN Rating: NN
it's enterprising of the coopera-tive group A Cry of Players to take on Shakespeare's Hamlet, and maybe they've learned something in the process. The audience, unfortunately, doesn't.Hamlet is a play of mystery and surprise, moments of comedy mixed in with philosophy and tragedy. None of this comes through in the production, where highly charged lines like "This troubles me" and "It harrows me with fear and wonder" are spoken as if the character has just asked someone to pass the salt.
The performances -- there's some cross-gender casting, including Jennifer Little as a female Horatio (but little is done with the switch) -- range from bland and boring to bombastic and bad. More thought seems to have gone into the lighting plan than into elucidating the text.
The exception is Melissa Good, whose Ophelia offers the only true feelings in the show. Clearly infatuated with Hamlet from the first court scene, her Ophelia begins as a playful innocent who's easily tipped into madness.
At times her performance could use some reining in, but director Micheal Querin -- his first time at the helm of a play, and starting here can be considered either brave or foolhardy -- doesn't give anyone much help.
A troubled production of Hamlet can still be worthwhile if the actor playing the prince brings scope to what many consider the Mount Everest of roles. Jerry Getty treats it as a flat plain with no distinguishing features except the occasionally raised voice.