Traditionalists beware! Director Michael Michetti’s lean, mean and stripped-to-the-extreme version of the Bard’s masterwork is out to raise your hackles. For the rest of us, though, Michetti and his abundantly talented ensemble deliver the goods — a riveting, provocative and lucidly entertaining Hamlet that comes agonizingly close to the definitive. Michetti’s boldest conceit is a radical collapse of Act I. A series of cinematic quick cuts establish Freddy Douglas’ prince riven by Oedipal angst. Instead of the traditional battlement scenes, Michetti employs an upstage screen of fun-house mirrors and has Hamlet channel the king’s ghost in his own distorted reflection. Exit Dr. Freud, enter Norman Bates. This suggestion of a schizophrenic break transforms Hamlet from hesitant intellectual into calculating killer; it also strips the subsequent action of its moral ambiguity and propels it into a kind of driving, Hitchcockian psychological thriller. François Giroday’s Claudius becomes a silver-tongued, cold-blooded schemer; Deborah Strang’s Gertrude his willing accomplice (when she isn’t unnaturally doting on her son). Matthew Jaeger, as Laertes, brings a disturbing whiff of incest to his brotherly affection for Ophelia (Dorothea Harahan). Tony Abatemarco lightens the load — and scores another of his trademark triumphs — with his superb comic rendering of Polonius. Designer Sara Ryung Clement ties it all together with an elegant, minimalist set and costumes, which are a timeless blend of modern and period dress. A Noise Within, 234 S. Brand Blvd., Glendale; in rep, call for schedule; thru Dec. 7. (828) 240-0901, Ext. 1.
Sat., Sept. 27, 8 p.m.; Sun., Sept. 28, 2 & 7 p.m.; Oct. 15-17, 8 p.m.; Sat., Oct. 18, 2 & 8 p.m.; Nov. 12-14, 8 p.m.; Sat., Nov. 22, 2 & 8 p.m.; Sun., Nov. 23, 2 & 7 p.m.; Sun., Dec. 7, 2 & 7 p.m., 2008