Half the fun of a Heights Players’ production is a look at the program. Such a talented group of New York actors manage to find their way to the company’s auditions. Indeed, it’s the cast that makes this new production of “Hamlet” worth a trip to Willow Street.
Brian Richards as the not-so-great Dane brings the melancholy intelligence, energy, humor and pitch blackness of the title character to life. Richards remained psychologically true to the character as he grappled with grief, betrayal, revenge, incest, anger and love (you know the story), enacting Shakespeare’s poetry and punditry with great energy and dynamic lyricism.
Energy, expressivity and narrative clarity were obviously director Robert Weinstein’s M.O. for this production. His modern-dress “Hamlet” opens with a tone poem of sorts as the actors recite the words “to be or not to be” in a roundelay, a fitting start to a production that strives to make this brilliant drama accessible — and memorable — to all.
The cast is uniformly excellent. Raven Pease is very good as a delicate and enchanting Ophelia, and Emily Taplin Boyd is a very stylish Gertrude.
The set, designed by Gerry Newman, manages to evoke a dark winter night and the interior of the castle with simplicity and versatility.
“Hamlet” at the Heights Players [26 Willow Pl. between State and Joralemon streets in Brooklyn Heights, (718) 237-2752], now through March 20. Tickets $15, $13 for seniors and children. For info, visit www.heightsplayers.org.