RICHMOND — They may not have packed the house the way a rock ’n’ roll band could have, but The Acting Company’s cast of “Hamlet” delivered an intense as well as entertaining performance Wednesday night at the EKU Center for the Arts.
The mostly young players were led by John Skelly. At 29, he is the age Hamlet is depicted in the script but still has a somewhat boyish aura.
There was nothing immature about Skelly’s acting skills as he negotiated one of the most complicated roles ever written for the English language.
Hamlet’s emotions and actions range from despair and anger to love and hate as well as fear, calculation and feigned madness.
Still in the transition from youth to manhood, Hamlet has to deal with meeting his father’s ghost, his mother’s hasty remarriage, the betrayal of friends, the realization that he cannot marry the love of his life and must fulfill a duty that will lead to his own untimely death.
Skelly was convincing no matter which face he wore.
When he came out last for the curtain call, the audience rewarded him with a standing ovation then cheered and applauded as intensely as it could.
Some scholars believe Shakespeare was inspired to write “Hamlet” in the year after his father’s death. Although I am quite familiar with the play, having studied it in college and seen several performances, I was unsure how it would affect me four months after my father’s death.
However, my situation and Hamlet’s share no similarities. My father was in his 99th year and had only recently become very frail and ill. After a long, productive life, his death was something of a release.
I was more moved by the play’s most tragic figure, Ophelia, and the actress who portrayed her.