The Broad Stage in Santa Monica is now presenting Bedlam, the acclaimed New York-based theater company that offers a fresh adaptation of Shakespeare’s HAMLET with four actors playing 25 characters. This engagement is the company’s West-Coast debut.

The iconic figures in one of Shakespeare’s most popular plays are brought vividly to life in a stripped-down staging by Aubie Merrylees, Aundria Brown, Kahlil Garcia, and Sam Massaro. They rocket from character to character at a lightning-bolt’s pace, directed by Artistic Director Eric Tucker.

To best enjoy this show you must know HAMLET well. This is because the actors switch from one character to the next in just a second, with the change indicated simply by a small prop, like a hat, a pair of glasses, or the folding and unfolding of a shirt’s collar.

These young actors are amazingly quick, as well as impressive in their capacity to memorize an enormous amount of lines and to change their voices and their mannerisms at all the right moments. They are quite good at what they do. Merrylees, for example, does a beautiful job with the most famous of HAMLET’s soliloquies. Every character dies at the end, the way Shakespeare intended, but this foursome manages to add quite a bit of comedy into the tragedy.

The play will perform through April 14 only. It is a long one, three hours and 10 minutes with two intermissions, but if you are a Shakespeare buff, it’s also a fun one. In addition to traditional house seating, you can purchase seats on stage for a closer, more intimate relationship to the action.  In each production, some audience members sit on risers on the stage for two of the three acts. For the other act, these audience members sit in the rear of the orchestra. You will not be put on the spot, no need to worry, but may be spoken to as if you were one of the absent characters. Learn more about onstage seating here.

Tickets are on sale at thebroadstage.org and by calling 310.434.3200.  Prices start at $45. The Broad Stage is located at 1310 11th Street, in Santa Monica 90401.

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