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LA Theater Review

Hamlet: A Tragic Thrance

The Outlaw Style Thrance Company has made its reputation by presenting shows that are a wonderful hybrid of dance and theatre-humorous and even provocative combinations of the two. Jessica Schroeder, founder and choreographer of the company, has brought an eclectic group of dancers and actors into the mix. The magic of the company is that it mingles terrific dancers who can act a little and terrific actors who can dance a bit, or barely at all. This makes for a combustible concoction of styles and tones, depending on the production. In the case of this show, a dance-theatre version of Hamlet, the mixture is decidedly out of balance.

To put it bluntly, this version requires too much acting and too little dancing, and most of the company members are simply not up to the task. The tale of the Prince of Denmark is arguably one of most difficult Shakespeare plays to stage effectively, and Atim Udoffia, who stars as Hamlet in this transgender version, does a credible job of acting and of dancing. Morgan Peter Brown has a wonderful turn as Polonius, and John Rocha is solid as Laertes. The rest of the ensemble, however, though offering evocative interpretations in dance, isn't up to snuff in the acting department. What worked so well in other Thrance productions is the undoing here.

Schroeder has trimmed the play somewhat and has chosen an interesting score-ranging from Elvis Costello to The Specials-but the piece is still mostly talk and runs nearly two and a half hours, far too long for a production of this type. In addition, the small stage greatly inhibits the choreographer and the dancers. While this production is an ambitious effort, it reaches beyond the core competencies of the ensemble and sidesteps the unique vision of this company.

Presented by the Outlaw Style Thrance Company at Studio/Stage, 520 N. Western Ave., Hollywood. Thu.-Sat. 8 p.m., Sun. 7 p.m. Mar. 11-Apr. 9. (323) 860-6503.

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