Most contemporary stagings of "Hamlet" end with Hamlet's corpse being borne aloft by Fortinbras' soldiers, but not the one being put on by the Los Angeles Repertory Company at Actors Center in Studio City.
There's no one left to carry the body.
Robert Ellenstein's production has only six players. Mainly, the device works. We understand the game from the beginning: no set, no costumes, invisible foils in the duel scene. We will see the play "in the mind's eye, Horatio."
Susan Angelo plays Horatio--and Ophelia. No problem. In fact, it's instructive to see how smoothly Ellenstein's actors can shift from character to character, sometimes at a moment's notice.
When Michael Newell and Patricia Huston sit down to hear the play-within-a-play, they do so as Claudius and Gertrude. Then they rise and bow to their empty chairs . . . and become the Player King and Queen. Not only is this a graceful transition, it strengthens the fatal identity between the two couples.