In the title role of William Shakespeare's "Hamlet," J. Kyle Manzay delivers a passionate and visceral prince. This bold out-of-doors production portrays an ill-at-ease kingdom, with libidinous rulers and murderous revenge eating at its core.
Despite a few amateurish mistakes early in the play, the young Manzay takes a strong hold on the deeply troubled and maniac persona of the prince. After visitation by his father's ghost (Adam Wade), Manzay's Hamlet moves quickly about the stage, moaning of the murderous betrayal and acting out a madness of violent and cruel proportions.
Poor Ophelia (Quonta Shanell Beasley) suffers terrible physical abuse from Hamlet. His mother, Gertrude, played in classic regal style by Lanette Ware, is asked to play an unbelievable moment: she tolerates her son?s abrupt confrontation when he mounts her in a mock display of lusty intercourse.
Dan Snow is very amusing as Polonius. Rosencrantz (Karl B. Stewart) and Guildenstern (Michael C. O'Day), often speaking in unison, are delightful comic foils as they follow Hamlet everywhere. Arthur French turns in winning performances as the Player King and the Gravedigger.
As Claudius, Rome Neal does not fully capture the magnitude of the power and anger of a man determined to rule at all costs. Damon Kinard is faithful Laertes. Brian Homer portrays a thoughtful and loyal Horatio. Sean Carroll, Cherrye Davis, Lee Hildebrand, Christian Laos, Nyambi Nyambi, Christina Zayas, and Chiron Platnum round out the cast.
Alfred Preisser's direction gives Manzay free rein to wreak havoc with friends and family. Unfortunately, he sabotages Manzay in two of Hamlet?s greatest monologues by allowing drummers, Ralph "Conga" Cabrera, Aman Re Jack, and Brother B Bonilla, to play underneath, drowning out important passages. Kimberly Glennon provides an eclectic mix of character-appropriate costumes.