Hamlet | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Though this production inaugurates a space for "artists working outside the traditional methodology of the text-based theater," director Blake Montgomery's elegant, clean-lined Hamlet is radical only in that it returns the play to its roots, stripping away centuries of convention and received wisdom. There is one departure from the text, however: the final scene is played first. This produces a kaleidoscope effect--one little twist, and all the pieces fall into a new pattern. A first-rate cast of eight, led by the extraordinary Christopher Johnson as Hamlet, performs on a bare stage in modern dress with only a change of coat or glasses to indicate a new character; between their scenes, the performers watch the action from either end of a runway-style stage. Hamlet may let ego interfere with duty, but this production never does; it keeps perfect faith with the ghost of Shakespeare. And of Joe Papp: all performances are free. Through 11/19: Fri-Sat 8 PM. Building Stage, 1044 W. Kinzie, 312-491-1369. Free.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Sean Williams.

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