The subtext to director John Langs' trim, wry production of Hamlet isn’t Tea Party anger or midterm elections. Rather, he seems to be suggesting Neville Chamberlain’s dithering before World War II, the slide from windy negotiation to war. What drives this home is Darragh Kennan’s choice to make Hamlet not merely a churlish adolescent giving the world the finger, but a forward-looking king-to-be. He’s a political animal whose relations with the world are full of calculation; power will come to him from the determined abnegation of his own desires (Ophelia chief among them). In keeping with the play’s cynically detached political mood, Richard Ziman portrays ruler Claudius as a smooth palace operator. David Pichette is the most deliciously tedious Polonius imaginable, all pseudo-savvy and protocol. Meanwhile, the booming PA pronouncements of an unpopular leader suggest scary political rallies that echo to the corners of the Earth. Change is coming. Or violence. Or both. MARGARET FRIEDMAN [See Margaret's full review.]

Thursdays-Sundays. Starts: Oct. 28. Continues through Dec. 5, 2010

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