Hamlet_Espace-Knox_westmountmag

Ever ambitious Snowglobe
Theatre stages Hamlet

A new take on Shakespeare’s most famous play at Espace Knox

By Byron Toben

Shakespeare’s Hamlet, his longest and arguably most famous play, has now been tackled by the tiny but ambitious Snowglobe Theatre.

This eclectic group burst on the scene in 2017 with the bard’s Much Ado About Nothing followed by an adaptation of His Girl Friday, Sartre’s No Exit, two one-act operas and now back to the bard again.

Founder/director Peter Giser has been analyzing Hamlet the play for years, finding new angles.

As he explains in the Director’s Note in the program, there are hints of Shakespeare’s secret Catholicism in Protestant England as well as growing revolutionary notions that the Sun, not the Earth, may be the centre of our universe.

Here, Giser’s version suggests that Ophelia may have drowned herself because of sexual abuse by bad king Claudius, not just Hamlet’s rejection.

Hamlet has undergone many examinations from many standpoints.

In psychology, Freud compared him to Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex.

On stage, our National Theatre School recently showed a split personality. See my review.

In film, Laurence Olivier’s 1948 movie was gray, gothic and pensive, whereas Kenneth Branaugh’s 1996 version was brighter and more athletic.

Hamlet Snowglobe Theatre - WestmountMag.ca

Here, Giser’s version suggests that Ophelia may have drowned herself because of sexual abuse by bad king Claudius, not just Hamlet’s rejection.

This version is running at Espace Knox. Its former existence as a church lends some great atmosphere – stained glass windows, a number of abandoned wooden candelabras.

‘The actors, all quite good, were drawn from local community groups and recent theatre grads. The one Equity member, who played a nuanced Queen Gertrude, was the excellent Leigh Ann Taylor.’

A huge cast for a relatively new independent group. There are 16 on-stage speaking performers, a non-speaking ensemble of three, and three musicians. An unseen voice as Hamlet’s father, Hamlet senior, was echoingly enunciated by McGill student Arthur Anderson.

The actors, all quite good, were drawn from local community groups and recent theatre grads.

The one Equity member, who played a nuanced Queen Gertrude, was the excellent Leigh Ann Taylor.

Hamlet is portrayed by monosyllabic John Abbott grad Chance Jones-Sauray. He gives us a very athletic character given to madness, at times a bit giggly.

Hamlet Snowglobe Theatre - WestmountMag.caHamlet’s steadfast friend, Horatio, ubiquitous throughout recording the scenes for Posterity, is enacted by Arun Varma.

A pleasure to see Westmount’s Dramatis Personae theatre stalwart, Clive Brewer, here as the Player King. Twelve-year-old George Chaya gets to act with the adults as the Player Queen.

Hamlet schoolmates (later spies) Rosenkrantz and Guildenstern are played by Bishop’s grad Bruce Lambie and Dawson grad Chloe Bilodeau.

McGill student Katerina Fylypchuk is properly bewildered and bereft as the young Ophelia, while McGill Savoy Society singer Michael Loewen properly revengeful as her brother, Laertes.

Their father, Polonius, whose wise words, “Neither a Borrower nor a Lender Be” ring true in today’s economic times, is perfectly enacted by Snowglobe vet Lars Lih.

Key to any Hamlet production is a strong performance of villain usurper Claudius, achieved here by 30-year community theatre vet, Lowell Gasoi, who also is Assistant Director.

Hamlet continues at Espace Knox until May 12.

snowglobetheatre.org

Images: Molly BarrieauBouton S'inscrire à l'infolettre – WestmountMag.ca

Read more articles from Byron Toben


Byron Toben, a past president of The Montreal Press Club, has been WestmountMag.ca’s theatre reviewer since July 2015. Previously, he wrote for since terminated web sites Rover Arts and Charlebois Post, print weekly The Downtowner and print monthly The Senior Times. He also is an expert consultant on U.S. work permits for Canadians.

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