By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
When Henckel does raise his voice loudly enough to be heard by the first three rows, he lazily puts the emphasis on the last word of every line:
"To be or not to be: That is the QUESTION.
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to SUFFER
The slings and arrows of outrageous FORTUNE
Or to take arms against a sea of TROUBLES..."
Hamlet is onstage for nearly every scene, so he should be the most compelling force on the boards. Henckel's Hamlet hides behind clenched fists grinding in front of his face. He blows soliloquies by inserting Walken-like pauses and swallowing half the words. If there are any works in English lit that can and should be heard spoken clearly and without too much physical flourish, it's Hamlet's self-reflective soliloquies. Just stand still in the spotlight and sing out, Louise!
As the evening creeps toward the "witching hour" Shakespeare mentions in Hamlet, bodies start to fall, signaling that the end of Act 5 will arrive sometime before dawn (this production actually runs right at three hours, but it's a long three hours). Gertrude sips from the poisoned cup Claudius intended for Hamlet. Laertes (Ophelia's brother, dressed as Zorro here) pierces Hamlet with a poisoned fencing foil, and Hamlet returns the favor. Hamlet keeps breathing long enough to stab his stepdaddy, shove him off the throne and take his place. Nobody calls 911. Fortinbras shows up on cue to take the crown of Denmark. Sigh, applaud weakly, dash for the exit.
The Hamlet performance reviewed was just after July 4. Beyond the stage at Samuell-Grand Amphitheater that night, random bottle rockets pierced the sky with silvery showers. All evening in East Dallas, the sharp pops of fireworks competed with Shakespeare's words. Too bad there weren't a few more sparks onstage.