STAGE REVIEW For Stage Left Players and SCT, the play's the thing

The two companies have collaborated to bring 'Hamlet' to area audiences.
SALEM -- To stay at home, or not to stay at home. That is the question. Whether 'tis nobler to avail oneself of a thoroughly enjoyable outdoor theater experience of Shakespeare's "Hamlet" at Waterworth Memorial Park or to suffer the slings and arrows of television's banal and pathetic offerings.
Ah, this one's a no-brainer. "Hamlet" wins hands down.
The combined efforts of Stage Left Players and Salem Community Theatre came to fruition when the Bard's masterpiece opened Friday as the newly cooled sun sank behind the Orashan Center and a backdrop of stars came out on cue with the darkness.
Story line: For anyone who's Shakespeare-challenged and thinks of Hamlet as "a small village," here's the scoop: Hamlet is the prince of Denmark whose father has recently met his untimely death -- of what is thought to be natural causes.
But, alas! Daddy's spirit is wandering about seeking his son's aid in avenging his murder at the hand of his own brother, who has not only assumed the throne, but the deceased king's wife, Hamlet's mother, as well.
Hamlet is overcome with melancholy as well as rage, but is also keen enough to use it to his own advantage in order to bring about justice.
This being Shakespeare, however, his revenge brings with it tragedy in the form of the deaths of several innocents, and ultimately his own demise.
While the play is filled with the poetic language one expects from Shakespeare, it is also much easier to understand than one might think.
Except of course, when interrupted by the rudeness of an airplane engine overhead or the gunning of motorcycle engines on the nearby highway. Sit close in order to follow the action.
The text is also replete with phrases penned by the Bard himself which are in common use to this day, and you'll find yourself saying, "I didn't know that was Shakespeare," at the frequent verbal contrivances, such as "The lady doth protest too much," "Get thee to a nunnery," "The play's the thing," "Murder most foul," etc.
Cast: Craig Snay was well up to his formidable task as the title character, displaying the range of emotions of the prince as he deals with the death of his father and the treachery of his uncle.
Hamlet's friend and confidante, Horatio, was brilliantly portrayed by Daniel Haueter, whose closing farewell to the fallen hero in his arms is perhaps the play's most poignant moment.
Queen Gertrude was ably played by Jeanne Kelly, and Eric Kibler did well as the murderous Claudius. Tiffany Carter and Chip Cleland as siblings Ophelia and Laertes, respectively, also gave excellent performances.
Gary Barringer was adequate in the role of Pelonius, although he was difficult to hear at times.
Recitations: Indeed, while overall this was an excellent performance, there were a few places where the players' recitations gave the impression that they only barely understood some of the language they were using, thus their phrases didn't always come "trippingly off the tongue."
Rounding out the cast were Nathan Price, Christin Price, Jim Kornbau, Ryan Gillis, Spence Cleland, Connie Price, Mark Frost, Anna Sturgeon and Kathy Sturgeon.
So, turn off the TV and get thee to Waterworth Memorial Park.
Performances are set for 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays through Aug. 25.

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