The compressed version of “Hamlet” running this weekend in Olean, at roughly an hour and a half, is only about 2⁄5 as long as the original — and it’s worth every second.
The Olean Theatre Workshop will present their free performance of the William Shakespeare play on the Oak Hill Park stage at 6 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
Director Jake Riggs’s production of Shakespeare’s classic tragedy contains a talented cast and beautiful acoustic music played and sung live by Angela Emley.
The play opens with the funeral procession of the former king. Following the funeral Bernardo and Horatio are introduced to the stage. Ben Hollamby portrays Bernardo with a sensible dignity. He and his good friend Horatio, played by Andrew Sherburne, have a unique dynamic. Sherburne brings a level of focus and skill to his role that contributes to Horatio’s friendship with Bernardo and most especially with Hamlet.
Nick Patrone plays the enigmatic character of Hamlet with a palpable madness that continues to increase throughout the course of the production.
Hamlet’s concerned mother is portrayed by Misty Richardson, who brilliantly shows the conflict she faces between her son and her new husband, Claudius, portrayed by Pab Sungenis. Sungenis adds sensitivity to the role that brings complexity to the otherwise authoritative and corrupt character.
Mia Pavone plays Hamlet’s love interest, Ophelia, with vulnerability and innocence. Portraying her father, Polonius, is John Mulryan who ably expresses a concern for his daughter that is fatally compromised by his political scheming. Josiah Jenks plays the role of Laertes with a sense of commitment that adds to his performance as Ophelia’s beloved brother.
Sarita Schwindler and Hermione Riggs are the perfect duo to present the characters Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. Schwindler and Riggs bring energy to the stage in every scene they are in.
As the comic relief of the play, Al Bernstein, the gravedigger, adds humor to the otherwise serious tone.
One of the more inventive aspects of the production is the play within the play, which is presented as a puppet show. Bryan Irrera, along with members of the ensemble, manipulate hand puppets to depict the characters in the play Hamlet writes in which to “catch the conscience of the King.”
Along with the play within the play, the fight scene between Laertes and Hamlet was very well choreographed and rehearsed. In both scenes, the use of the ensemble is important to the mood of the production. The members of the supporting cast include Gabriel Williams, Jaxon Schwindler, Rebecca Green, Ashley Labombard, Steve Ahl, Michael Sparkie, Sandy Mulryan, Tyler Irvin, Peyton Kunselman and Quinn Forrest.
Be sure to bring a chair or blanket. In case of rain, the show will be performed in the Washington Street Theater.