Over the weekend I made a quick road trip to the Lower East Side of New York–and wow, has it become an amazing, vibrant neighborhood!–to see a production of The Two Gentlemen of Verona staged by a new company: Hamlet Isn’t Dead. Their mission–no small one–will be to produce all of Shakespeare’s plays more or less in historical order over the coming years. And the performances, the imagination, the overall effect was as lively as the rejuvenated neighborhood.
Staged at culturefix, a small bar/gallery/creative space on Clinton Street, this early play by Shakespeare was perfect for a small ensemble of superbly talented younger actors. They’d been going strong for three weeks–sadly, Sunday was their last performance–but they really got it. It being the language, the sensuality, the fun of the play, where Shakespeare was introducing elements and issues–boys dressed as girls dressed as boys, exile in the forest, love gone right and wrong and right again–that he would be working through the rest of his career.
And this was what made me so keen: the drama and poetry so fresh, the actors so fully engaged and talented, the raw ambition of the Hamlet Isn’t Dead company. Kudos to them all.