- Reporters Desk
By John Farrell, Curtain Call Writer
It takes guts to present Shakespeare’s Hamlet, a play that is both a daunting challenge and one of the finest works in the English language.
It takes even more courage to present it as your first local performance.
TE San Pedro Rep, the new theater company on 7th Street took on that challenge.
Hamlet is the first play they have presented in San Pedro since moving to the community a few months back. They have made a credible success of it in their small but effective theater, just across the alley from the Little Fish Theatre. (On Friday night both theaters were open for business: a good sign for the local community.)
TE San Pedro Rep (the “TE” stands for Theatrum Elysium, the company’s first name when they played in La Crescenta) has turned a former doctor’s office on 7th Street into a playing space. The theater company got rid of most of the insides of their building and turned the front half of the building into a spare theatrical room with benches for seats and curtains on three walls that have various entrances for the actors.
This is Shakespeare up just about as close as you can get. The actor playing Polonious sat down with the audience and addressed one member directly. Ophelia in her mad scene, plucked imaginary flowers and offered them directly to audience members.
Hamlet is dependent on the actors playing the melancholy Dane. In this case Aaron Ganz, the company founder and artistic director, who has the right look for the piece. His face seems designed for melancholy. He speaks with a deep resonance and slowly comes to terms with his fate: He must revenge his father.
Martin Jago, a Shakespearean expert, directed this production and cut it down (as it is almost always is cut) from its published length to three hours. Unless you find sitting on a bench for a long time uncomfortable, you will not notice the time passing.
The cast doubles in some roles, but you won’t mind. Gugun Deep Singh plays Polonius with a depth and richness that is electrifying and he doubles as the Gravedigger, the one comic role in the play, with a remarkable change of character. Chris Lang is Claudius, and he plays him with a welcoming and refreshing tone at first, until he recognizes that hamlet wants to kill him because Hamlet knows Claudius killed his brother, Hamlet’s father. Liz Besnak-Arata is Gertrude, Hamlet’s mother now married to Claudius: she seems innocent, showing none of the sexual passion that drives her to accept murder. Paris Langle is effective as Horatio, Hamlet’s deep friends, and Reuben Uy is effective as Laertes, who kills Hamlet and dies himself in the final duel.
This is delicious theater, and TE San Pedro Rep deserves support and playgoers who want to see Hamlet performed with grace and sometimes even a little neatness. On the night this reviewer attended there were only six or so in the audience. Go and support local theater.
Tickets are $25 and $20 for students. Performances are Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m., with Saturday matinees at 2 p.m., through Dec. 21.
Details: (424) 264-5747; www.sanpedrorep.
Venue: TE San Pedro Rep
Location: 311 W. 7th St., San Pedro Venue: