April 15, 2015

A lavish tiered wedding cake stands sentinel throughout the new production of “Hamlet” that opened Wednesday at the Classic Stage Company, with Peter Sarsgaard in the title role. As the presence of this big pile of pastry suggests, the concept behind this stylish-looking modern-dress production directed by Austin Pendleton essentially presents the action as a long dramatic hangover after the wedding celebrations for Claudius (Harris Yulin) and Gertrude (Penelope Allen). A bar with top-shelf liquor sits in one corner of the theater, a cocktail table in another. At center stage for most of the drama is a round table set for a celebratory dinner, surrounded by black cane chairs, the kind that gnaw into your back at formal functions. (The all black-and-white set design is by Walt Spangler; the formal-wear costumes, in the same palette, are by Constance Hoffman.) Unfortunately, by the end of this respectable but sluggish production, which runs over three hours, you may feel as you do after attending one of those overblown weddings that seem to go on for days, and sometimes do. In other words, dazed and ready for bed.