Over the 10 years of its existence, the Independent Shakespeare Company has developed a reliable house style: brisk, athletic, no-nonsense productions, with a contemporary sensibility, a Brechtian objectivity and a talent for unlocking the plays' comic potential. All of these virtues are present in this, its fifth rendering of Hamlet, with David Melville once again putting his stamp on the title role. Melville, like Hamlet himself, has an antic disposition, and an anarchic and subversive wit that prevents his ever sinking into conventionality. (Never have the Rosencrantz and Guildenstern scenes or the advice to the players yielded so many solid laughs.) Director Melissa Chalsma gives us a fine, exciting, fast-moving, no-period production, with a strong supporting cast that delivers the cleverly edited text with energy and clarity. Sean Pritchett is a smoothly confident Claudius and Luis Galindo smartly responds to the challenge of three demanding roles: the Ghost, the Player King and the Gravedigger. Thomas Ehas renders Polonius as a dignified booby, and Mary Guilliams is a spunky Ophelia. Erwin Tuazon shines as an irresistibly comic Rosencrantz and an unexpectedly subtle Osric, while Andre Martin is a stalwart Laertes.

Fridays, Saturdays, 5 p.m. Starts: Feb. 10. Continues through Feb. 19, 2012

LA Weekly