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A Los Angeles Theatre Review: ‘Hamlet’

You would be hard pressed to find me wanting to watch a Shakespeare production willingly. While I am painfully aware his works are considered the echelon of fine performance arts training, my distaste for it only grew as a vast majority of Shakespeare productions only utilize white actors for the meaningful parts.

Until now.

Antaeus Theatre Company returns to in-person performance with a new production of Hamlet, directed by Shakespearean expert Elizabeth Swain and featuring long-time company member Ramón de Ocampo in the title role. Performances begin May 20 and continue through Jun20 at the Kiki & David Gindler Performing Arts Center in Glendale.

Following the death of his father, Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, returns home to find his uncle now occupies the throne and the queen’s bed. Spurred by the ghost of his father and surrounded by spies, Hamlet must choose between moral integrity and vengeance.”

With the latest Antaeus Theatre Company’s production of Hamlet, we have four global majority actors performing the most significant parts of this Shakespeare play with Ramón de Ocampo taking on the titular role himself, Jeanne Syquia as Ophelia, and Gregg T. Daniel and Veralyn Jones as Claudius and Gertrude. That was enough for me to go and brave the harsh elements of listening to old English for three-plus hours.

Peter Van Norden, Gregg T. Daniel, Veralyn Jones
Photo by Jenny Graham

When any Shakespeare production can make me understand the events well and actually care about what’s happening to (mostly) rich people, then the production did a fine job. So it goes without saying that this production of Hamlet was a resounding success, with the strength of it lying on Ramón de Ocampo’s shoulders along with Veralyn Jones, Jeanne Syquia, Peter Van Norden, and Joel Swetow who were absolutely captivating in their performances.

Particularly with Ramón de Ocampo and Jeanne Syquia, seeing these two actors of Filipino descent command such presence, passion, and pathos into these iconic roles were utterly satisfying as they took the audience on a journey in their own tragic storylines. Each had their unique descent into chaos and madness and both these actors achieved the massive difficulty of such a task with aplomb.

Joel Swetow, Adam J. Smith, Lloyd Roberson II
Photo by Jenny Graham

With the effortless and masterful direction of Elizabeth Swain, the effective stage design by Stephen Gifford, the eerie and beguiling lighting design by Jared A. Sayeg, and the precise & brutal choreography and violence design by Liz LaMura and Ned Mochel respectively, the entire production team did a wonderful job transporting us into this realm with very minimal staging which, to me, is the most ideal when it comes to performances on the stage.

Whether or not you’re a fan of Shakespeare, I highly recommend checking out this production not only because it’s quite fantastic but in the name of #RepresentationMatters, it is just wonderful to see global majority presence used in the most significant ways AND to see them completely knock it out of the park.

WHO:
• Written by William Shakespeare
• Directed Elizabeth Swain
• Starring Gregg T. DanielRamón de OcampoSally HughesVeralyn JonesMichael KirbyLloyd Roberson IIAdam J. SmithJoel SwetowJeanne SyquiaPeter Van Norden
• Sponsored in part by Rosemary A. Hernandez
• Presented by Antaeus Theatre Company

The Ensemble
Photo by Frank Ishman

WHEN:
Previews: May 15 – May 19
Performances: May 20 – June 20
• Tuesday at 8 p.m.: May 17 ONLY (preview)
• Wednesday at 8 p.m.: May 18 ONLY (preview)
• Thursday at 8 p.m.: May 19 ONLY (preview)
• Fridays at 8 p.m.: May 20 (Opening), May 27, June 3, June 10, June 17
• Saturdays at 2 p.m.: May 28, June 4, June 11, June 18 (no matinee on Saturday, May 21)
• Saturdays at 8 p.m.: May 21, May 28, June 4, June 11, June 18
• Sundays at 2 p.m.: May 15 (preview), May 22, May 29, June 5, June 12, June 19
• Mondays at 8 p.m.: June 6, June 13, June 20 (dark May 23 and May 30)

WHERE:

Kiki & David Gindler Performing Arts Center
110 East Broadway
Glendale, CA 91205
(between N. Brand Blvd. and Artsakh Ave.)

Ramón de Ocampo, and Adam J. Smith
Photo by Frank Ishman

PARKING:
First 90 minutes free, then $2 per hour in Glendale Marketplace garage located at 120 S. Artsakh Ave. (between Broadway and Harvard)

TICKET PRICES:
• All performances (reserved seating): $40
• Previews: $20

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