On Stage: Hamlet, Silent but Dark

by Chuck Conconi

REVIEW: Synetic’s silent ‘Hamlet’ interprets Shakespeare’s complex tragedy through dance.

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Irakli Kavsadze as Claudius and Irina Tsikurishvili as Gertrude with Ensemble. (Photo by Koko Lanham)

There is no question that Synetic Theater’s production of “Hamlet … the rest is silence” is smart and creative. Shakespeare is all about the poetic language, but Paata Tsikurishvili, the founder and artistic director of the Synetic Theater, has returned to the silent “Hamlet” that established the beginning of his unique theatrical blending of dance in a ballet-like interpretation over a subsequent series of productions.

Paata’s wife, Irina Tsikurishvili, the talented choreographer/dancer and star of the Synetic productions, again is a stand out in this new performance, playing Hamlet’s mother Gertrude. The 90-minute production, without intermission, moves effortlessly across the Synetic stage at Crystal City where Paata’s clock-like direction and staging make for a captivating blend of music, dramatic lighting and movement. It is provocative and worth experiencing.

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Synetic may easily be one of the most creative theater organizations on the East Coast, with a young, energetic cast that has won several best ensemble honors from the Helen Hayes Awards. It seems, however, that Shakespeare’s comedies are better suited to the Synetic silent touch than a tragedy like “Hamlet.

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” The theater’s recent production of “Twelfth Night” was so cleverly staged and madcap that one would think Shakespeare had written it to be silent. “Hamlet,” on the other hand, is deeper. If the viewer isn’t well acquainted with the play, the experience can be difficult.

Brittany Diliberto’s masterful lighting evokes the proper eerie atmosphere for this dark play. Coupled with Irakli Kavsadze’s sound design and Konstantine Lortkipanidze’s sound editing, the result is magical, haunting. And it bears repeating that Irina Tsikurishvili’s choreography and performance is the effective core of Synetic productions. Her work is testimony to elegant movement; it is a form of ballet without the classical music.

The Synetic troupe is young and talented with the stamina that Paata demands. The ensemble movements that fill the stage in the opening is worth the entire evening alone. Alex Mills in the demanding title role commands the stage. His unspoken soliloquy projects his personal gloom and ambiguity about his existence, while Irina Kavsadze is a wraith-like, fragile Ophelia heart-breakingly sinking into madness and oblivion.

Synetic’s “Hamlet” is not the easiest production to experience.

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It requires knowledge about the written complexity of Shakespeare’s tragic hero. Nevertheless, it is a haunting and provocative experience.

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Hamlet … the rest is silence” continues through April 6, 2014 at Synetic Theater, 1800 S.Bell St., Arlington, VA 22202. Tickets start at $35 and are available at 703-824-8060 and online here.

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