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Murder Most Foul: “Hamlet” Arrives at the Folger

Shakespeare’s masterpiece gets transported from the famed Globe to the more intimate Capitol Hill theater.

Georgetown alum Michael Benz of Shakespeare’s Globe plays the lead in Hamlet at the Folger. Photograph by Fiona Moorhead.

Shakespeare’s Globe brings its acclaimed,
pared-down production of Hamlet from London to Capitol
Hill’s Folger Theatre September 8 through 22—something Folger artistic
producer Janet Alexander Griffin has long hoped to see: “They’re the
Shakespeare theater of record, we’re the library of record. This is the
result of a couple of summers of trying to figure out how we could
collaborate.” Codirector Dominic Dromgoole has trimmed the show to 2½
hours, and his production uses just eight actors for more than a dozen
characters. Griffin says Dromgoole has also found ways to enhance the
humor in the tragic play, resulting in an interpretation London’s Daily
Telegraph praised as “fast, fresh, and lucid.” Though this is the Globe’s
first trip to DC, one cast member is familiar with the city.
Michael Benz, who plays the title role, got an undergrad
degree at Georgetown and, while a student, performed in local productions
of Twelfth Night and Much Ado About Nothing before heading to the Royal
Academy of Dramatic Art.

With just 250 seats, the Folger offers a more intimate
experience than the Globe, which can host 3,000 seated and standing. Built
in 1599 to host Shakespeare’s company, the structure was demolished in
1644 before being rebuilt thanks to the efforts of actor and director Sam
. Griffin hopes the Folger production will allow audiences to
find something new in a classic drama: “Dominic is a very exciting
director—he’s smart and a little edgy. It’ll be interesting to see what
he’s made of the greatest play in the English language.”

Tickets ($60 to $85) at

This article appears in the September 2012 issue of The Washingtonian.