Another Look at Quantum’s Production of ‘Hamlet’


How many versions of Hamlet have we seen? In my life, at least a dozen. (I was an English major). My previous was at the Globe Theatre in London, a fast-paced, almost breathless production that seldom paused to let us contemplate what Shakespeare was doing.

So, when I sat down in front of the looming Carrie Furnace for Quantum Theatre’s production, I wondered what insights this version of Hamlet might offer amid the rusting remains of industrial Pittsburgh. 

The answer? The Quantum crew decided, “Let Shakespeare be Shakespeare.” Efficiently cut to just over two hours, with a 20-minute intermission (it’s a long walk to the porta johns), the play captures the highlights of the Bard’s longest work, including the full gravedigger scene and uses the full extent of Tony Ferrieri’s multi-level set.

More importantly, under the direction of Jeffrey Carpenter, the actors “speak the speech” with such clarity and precision that I heard parts of Hamlet for the first time. The cast is a mixture of such veterans as Robin Walsh playing Gertrude, Sam Turich as Claudius, and Thom Delventhal playing Polonius, with younger actors Saige Smith as Ophelia, Brett Mack as Horatio and Brendan Peifer as Laertes.
As the Danish prince, Treasure Treasure, a performance artist, and musician, fills this all-too-difficult role with energy and intelligence. Her soliloquies, to the audience and internally, are focused and direct but sometimes combined with too much movement across the stage, which she seldom leaves. Treasure Treasure is firmly at the center of this “Hamlet,” as the other actors revolve around her.
Carpenter stages Ophelia’s mad scene as a rock performance as Smith sinks into despair using a microphone like a star singer. She has a great voice and delivers a powerful version of suicidal madness. It’s one of the show’s highlights.

Treasure Treasure as Hamlet, in a costume design by Susan Tsu.

The elements of theater are another highlight, from Susan Tsu’s variety of costumes, Sartje Pickett’s compositions and sound design, and C. Todd Brown’s effective lighting coloring the furnace’s corners and many surfaces as the play proceeds.

The supporting cast members are Dereck Walton playing the ghost, among other parts, Theo Allyn (Guildenstern), Dave Mansueto (Rosencrantz), and Dylan Marquis Meyers playing Marcellus.

The answer, then, to my question about Quantum’s Hamlet was: An insightful, entertaining evening under the stars. The rest is silence.


Quantum Theatre’s production of Hamlet by William Shakespeare plays at the Carrie Furnace through August 27, 2023Tickets at: www.quantumtheatre.com

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