Last night I had the pleasure of attending the 8 person Globe Touring Company's performance of Hamlet at the Folger Library. Yes, 8 people performed a play with 25 character roles in 2.5 hours. Now if that sounds a bit manic and fast-paced, that's because the play is exactly that. But it infuses Hamlet with a liveliness and sense of fun that other more in-depth interpretations may lack.
The Folger Theater is small and seats only around 100, giving it more intimate feel than the Globe in London. My seat was along the wall, about two feet from the edge of the stage, and could see all the actors up close. The stage was bare save for a homemade curtain, some chairs and wood that was used as everything from ramparts to a grave.
The actors themselves were uniformly good with their multiple roles. Special mention going Dickon Tyrrell as a serious Claudius/Ghost and Player and Christopher Saul as the comedic foil and verbose Polonius. Michael Benz as Hamlet brought a youthfulness and rashness to the role but the speed of his soliloquies sometimes masked the words themselves and made for a less emotional journey.
One of the most interesting scenes was the play-within-the-play, were the curtain is used to give two POVs from both the play actors perspective and the perspective of the King and Queen and their guests. Music(played by the actors on stage) to punctuate actions of the players.
The one nitpick other than some of the speed of the actors' lines was that the comedy was played a bit too broadly in parts, almost pantomime, which took a little away from the tragic parts. Overall, this is a easy Hamlet to watch and to have fun with. If it comes to a theater near you, please do yourself a favor and see it. And if you're ever in London, do go to the Globe and see a play if for nothing more than the atmosphere.