The production of Hamlet by the local Richmond theater group, Quill, has its own twist – the title role of the melancholy Prince of Denmark is being played by the talented actress Molly Hood. While there is a tradition of some women attempting the role, according to my research they tend to play the role as either a male, or some androgynous individual.
Hood’s interpretation flies in the face of that as the role is presented as a full female, there is no disguising the fact that she is a woman and even the dialogue has been properly changed to reflect that. Within minutes I fully accepted her in the role and was delighted to find that it seemed so natural that I wasn’t hung up by the gender change and it even fueled the story a little better. More on that later.
But even with Hood’s brilliance, without a good supporting cast the show could have fallen flat as just another Shakespearean stunt. But director Jan Powell has surrounded her with a great cast – each spurring the others on to do better, be stronger, and make the show come alive for aficionados and newcomers alike.
As the new king Claudius and mother Gertrude, Foster Solomon and Shirley Kagan are very strong. Solomon is a commanding presence, regal and intimidating – but seemingly sympathetic to Hamlet’s plight. Kagan walks the fine line of concern for her daughter while wanting to hold on to her own position.
David Janosik is the Ghost of Hamlet’s Father – a difficult role to play, but he plays it well. He moves fluidly throughout the theatre, not confined by space. Scenes can be played on the stage or in the audience bringing us into the world of Elsinore.