Synetic Teen Company’s ‘Hamlet…the rest is silence’ at Synetic Theater

Fans of Synetic Theater: it’s time to celebrate! While the original company members of Hamlet…the rest is silence are maturing, the new generation of brilliant performers is being groomed for greatness. Congratulations to Director Alex Mills and Choreographer Kathy Gordon for successfully coaching this brilliant young cast. I am sure that Artistic Director Paata Tsikurshvili and Choreographer Irina Tsikurshvili, are beaming with pride!

The Cast of 'Hamlet...The Rest is Silence.' Photo by Val Proudkii.

The Cast of ‘Hamlet…The Rest is Silence.’ Photo by Val Proudkii.

If you, like me, were unlucky and missed the original production of Hamlet…The Rest is Silence, seeing this unbelievable teen version is a must. The young cast reenacts the original concept with enough talent, force, and conviction to knock you out with its visceral power.

As Synetic’s Education Program Manager Joe Carlton explained before the show, the teen production is a remount of the Synetic Theater’s 2002 hit debut which sealed the theater’s fate as the best movement theater company in DC. Carlton added that all the cast members, irrespective of their previous Synetic experience, underwent eight weeks of strenuous training and are bound by their passion and commitment to excellence in the spirit of Samuel Beckett’s famous quote: “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail Again. Fail better.”

As the show begins, you immediately see Synetic’s extraordinary ability to wordlessly ‘theatricalize’ the production’s plot, narrative, emotions, and ideas.

We see a bare dark stage with several actors lying down on stretchers, immobile, hands folded, as if they are dead. In the center, a single stretcher stands upright resembling a ‘tombstone,’ with Hamlet’s face and a single skull, monument inscriptions peering from among the bed’s ‘ribs.’ A huge black lamp dangles from above dispersing light over the ‘graveyard,’ steadily shifting from side-to-side like a pendulum swinging between life and death. And so Synetic’s remarkable vision of the timeless Shakespearean tale of a young prince touched by tragedy and loss, starts to unfold.

If this scene can have such a powerful impact without words and movement, try to imagine what awaits you when everything on the stage is simultaneously at work. The stage is continuously transformed by Brittany Diliberto’s expert and commanding lighting and Irakli Kavsadze’s sound design, combined with smoke and other visual effects. Then there is so much emotion and messages skillfully manipulated and nurtured by masterful music and sound by Resident Composer and Sound Editor Konstantine Lortkipanidze. Irina Tsikurishvili’s also contributes amazing choreography and Emily Price’s simple, yet evocative, costumes, and scarce, yet powerful props and décor, create images so powerful and moving (watch out for Ophelia’s funeral scene), that I was completely immersed in the story and performances.

Sean Silvia (Hamlet). Photo by Dennis Deloria.

Sean Silvia (Hamlet). Photo by Dennis Deloria.

Congratulations to the talented young cast! Sean Silvia and Eva Gary bring Hamlet and Ophelia to life in a convincing and passionate way. Maura O’Reilly, as Hamlet’s mother Gertrude, and Richard Bew, as her second husband and Hamlet’s uncle, create a powerful couple, skillfully enacting the complex emotions which seal their characters’ fate. Similarly, the relationship between Hamlet and Gertrude shines on its own, with the actors adeptly conveying the depth of their mother-son feelings and struggles.

The exceptional Teen Ensemble contributes many laughs, especially Ana Tsikurishvili in her role of Player Queen, Matthew Palacios as a Gravedigger, and also Hamlet himself – Sean Silvia – showing Hamlet’s humorous side. And Sam Brumbaugh scared the heck out of me (with the help of truly hair-raising and blood-curdling music) as the Ghost of Hamlet’s Father.

The cast members deserve praise for their teamwork and their ability to clearly tell the story of Hamlet using the expressive power of their bodies and facial expressions. This is a testament to the excellence of their short and intensive training.

In the words of the Director and Synetic Technique Director for Teen Productions, Alex Mills, the Synetic educational program offers a completely unique skill set of physical acting methods, “including pantomime training, isolation work, general physical vocabulary, and “self-discipline.” They teach the actors to persevere and “push forward” to get to know one’s own body and its potential.

“To be or not to be?” That is still a relevant question young Hamlets of today keep asking. There are sadly too many teenagers dealing with pain, family breakdowns, and alienation. And there are too many Ophelias feeling hurt, being disappointed with love, and feeling rejected and alone.

Synetic’s innovative and fast-paced take on Hamlet and other Shakespearean plays is of an enormous value, especially for the young audiences who are too often discouraged by the complex texts and language of  Shakespeare’s work.

This is Shakespeare they can understand and relate to, and enjoy. Casting teen performers in this wordless and dynamic production of Hamlet…the rest is silence hopefully will open their minds to Shakespeare’s works and will encourage them to come back to the theatre to see more of Synetic’s work.

The Cast of 'Hamlet...The Rest is Silence.' Photo by Dennis Deloria.

The Cast of ‘Hamlet…The Rest is Silence.’ Photo by Dennis Deloria.

Don’t miss this powerful and jaw-dropping production of Hamlet…the rest is silence. It’s fulfilling as it is uplifting, and it’s filled with passionate and skillful young actors. Kudos to Synetic Theatre for passing on their genius and creativity to this talented and younger generation of performers. I am confident we will see them in future Synetic productions.

Running Time: One hour and forty minutes, without an intermission.

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Synetic Team Company’s Hamlet…the rest is silence plays through April 18, 2014 at Synetic Theater-1800 S Bell Street, in Arlington, VA. Performances are tonight, April 11th at 8pm;April 12th at 2pm and April 16th, 17th, and 18th at 8pm. For tickets, call (866) 811-4111, or purchase them online.

LINK: 

Meet Cast Members of Synetic Teen Company’s ‘Hamlet..the rest is silence by Joel Markowitz on DCMetroTheaterArts.

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