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  • Writer's pictureRaji Writes

Hamlet at American Conservatory Theater: An Impression (or “Sweets for the Sweet)

Satchmo at the Waldorf

John Douglas Thompson Transformed into the brooding Prince of Denmark.

His father's ghost

Commanding, owning the stage.

The captivating Steven Anthony Jones.

Who then transformed into

Claudius, scheming, nefarious.

He brought a memory of the theatre across the bay

Where another unforgettable apparition

Cackling "When shall we three meet again?"

The most memorable Frances McDormand

Appeared later as Lady Macbeth.

Frances McDormand as one of the three witches at Berkeley Rep's Macbeth

Ophelia, delicate, lively, then unhinged Laertes, bold, lean, lithe, fiery Gertrude, airy then torn Polonius, as Eliot said,

fittingly “full of high sentence, a bit obtuse”

The set, nondescript, warehouse-like, mutable The costumes contemporary, sharply modern The King and Polonius in three-piece suits Gertrude, Ophelia in smart dresses Laertes in skinny pants

Many beloved lines Which the audience greets with a titter of recognition

To thine own self be true

Brevity is the soul of wit To be or not to be… (at which mercifully the audience was silent, expectant) Good night sweet prince…

And the line which is forever entwined With the memory of my mother

From whom I heard Shakespeare’s lines

Before I ever read any: Sweets for the sweet. She taught me never to say that (As many do) When giving flowers to someone. Gertrude said it, she explained, As she laid flowers On Ophelia's grave. In my mind, I whispered the words to you (aptly, you would agree) When I laid the flowers I sent you for Mother's Day On your body As you lay in repose

After flights of angels Came to bear thee singing to thy rest.

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