I previously saw Ben Carlson as "Hamlet" (8/20/08) under Terry Hands' (a former RSC artistic director) direction at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater. There, I was struck by the clarity of his performance. Here, at the Festival Theatre, Mr. Carlson is reprising the role, this time under Adrian Noble's direction. His performance has grown tremendously: not only is the clarity still there, there is now an anguished urgency to his performance that is absolutely riveting to behold. He now grabs hold of the audience and hurtles it headlong into Hamlet's labyrinthine journey. The production itself is world class; minimal and stylish and always exciting to watch (it's now set, I believe, right after World War I). The balance of the company are also first-rate.
Rating: ***** (out of *****)