The Shakespeare's Globe touring company of London will bring "Hamlet" to the Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts tonight.
Shakespeare's Globe does not use any artificial lighting or sound effects, thus re-creating the organic staging of Elizabethan theater.
The tour revives the tradition of small companies and a swift, unfettered approach what Shakespeare's Globe artistic director Dominic Drumgoole has called "the Globe spirit."
"It's not going to be like any 'Hamlet' production you've ever seen," Michael Benz, who plays the title role, said by telephone from a tour stop in Mexico.
This presentation will ditch the dark, brooding approach, with dry ice and special effects. It will be much more about the words delivered, Benz said.
There is one set, and eight actors will play all 19 characters. The Globe does this intentionally to bring authenticity and showcase the roots of Elizabethan theater.
They do this in less than three hours, which is a minor miracle for a "Hamlet" production, Benz said.
"It is clear, swift and speedy with all the psychological depth," Benz said. "And we bring out some of the natural comedy in 'Hamlet.' "
The simple costumes reflect clothing similar to designs seen in Great Britain during World War II, with drab colors. Nothing is flashy or loud.
But the play is not set in a specific time period.
"You don't get a perception of a particular time," Benz said. "Our approach to the play is that it's about a young man who has been wronged. He has led a charmed life, and suddenly his world is turned upside down."
Benz, born in England to American parents and educated partly in the United States, is the only actor not playing multiple roles, because of the demand placed on him as lead.
He starts the play wearing an inky cloak that sets off his blond hair. The attire can predict how the performance goes, Benz said.
The past two shows, Benz did not get a chance to shave, so Hamlet went onstage with stubble on his face. Benz said he felt older, and his performance was different from other shows.
When: 8 tonight
Where: Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts, UC Davis
Cost: $32-$63 general; $17.50-$31.50 students
Information: www.mondaviarts.org, (530) 754-2787