Hamlet's an exhausting and compelling fellow in the Lantern Company's production with Geoff Sobel in the title role. Sobel, a very physical actor keeps the brooding prince restlessly in motion, while making Shakespeare's thoughts his own.
The virtuoso performance underscores the prince of Denmark's remark: "I am mad only north by northwest." Charles McMahon directs a smartly paced production in St. Stephen's Alley. The ensemble has more triumphs than disappointments. Mary Martello is the deceived Queen, a character she shows much in lust and under the thumb of her second husband, but with a control that demonstrates her wide range. Tim Moyer's Polonius is a fine surprise, so often is the character played a bumbler, Moyer gives the role the due this attendant and well-meaning bore deserves, which makes his children's love more credible. Moyer also plays the gravedigger, another terrific performance.
Ophelia is the gifted Melissa Dunphy, whose shy love spirals into madness. Her brother, Laertes, is the sensitive Andrew Kane, who doubles as lead actor in the play within the play. Joe Guzman is a good looking King Claudius but the interpretation sends mixed signals. He well acts a schemer and seductiveness but the soliloquy on guilt is overdone. He also over-emotes the voice of the Ghost. Dan Hodge plays Horatio, that best of all possible friends, as if it is indeed Blessed to be Meek.
Hamlet by the Lantern underlines the inner and outer violence of conscience: The consequences of foul play and revenge. Characters interrupt and talk above each other. Hamlet shakes and stuns Ophelia into submission. Dirk DuRossette's streamlined set highlights the vertical: Industrial pipes are a jungle gym for Hamlet's hide-and-seek. Nick Rye's sound design is riveting. The play's the thing: Hamlet: The Lantern Theater through May 10, St. Stephen's Alley.