Fritz Leiber Excellent As Hamlet In The Opening Play Of A Four Week Series
The old Castle Square Theatre, whose memory is chiefly famous as erstwhile home of "Abie's Irish Rose," has taken a new lease of life. Now known as the Arlington, the theatre reopened this week with Fritz Leiber billed for a four weeks' appearance in a series of Shakespeare's plays. If his subsequent presentations are on a par with his "Hamlet," in which he is to continue until the middle of the week, Boston Shakespeareans may flatter themselves that they are in for an enjoyable month.
Mr. Leiber's characterizations of Hamlet is impressive and forceful, and he does not endeavor so to emphasize his role as to throw the other characters unreasonably into the background. On the contrary his supporting cast contributes greatly to the excellence of his own interpretation of Hamlet, Louis Leon Hall and Irby Marshall as the king and queen being particularly satisfactory. Philip Quin in the part of Polonius somehow tails, in the opinion of the reviewer, to give an altogether persuasive representation, but, inasmuch as the true character of the Lord Chamberlain is largely a matter for opinion. Mr. Quin's playing of it is also a matter for personal prejudice. In portraying Polonius almost too capably as a pronounced senile imbecile, it is inevitable that the force of Polonius' farewell to Laertes is impaired.
The scenes throughout are simple, and effective, perhaps the best done of all being those of the third act.
Certainly there are Hamlets and Hamlets and manifold methods of interpretation. Some fit the part, others do not. Mr. Leiber is one who is particularly suited to it. It does not seem, certainly, in his case that anything is lest by foregoing most opportunities for extreme grandiloquence. To those who care more for their Shakespeare than for the accomplishments of the actor and who appreciate the force of judicious simplicity, Fritz Leiber is certain to appeal strongly.
If any criticism be found with "Hamlet" as played at the Arlington it would be only that the effort to preserve as much as possible the original atmosphere of the Shakespearean theatre by curtailing the intermissions might be better infringed upon to the extent of permitting at least one break of over three minutes.