Tiny Ninja Theater Presents Hamlet P.S.122
151 First Avenue
Tiny Ninja Theater has a relatively docile stable of performers, who never clamor for more money, complain about their dressing rooms, or mutiny against their director. Yet the ensemble has one pesky challenge: All of its plastic figurine actors are ludicrously short. The largest is no bigger than an ordinary Christmas tree ornament, while the smallestwell, you'd be inclined to step on it if you saw it on your bathroom floor. Tiny Ninja got around this disability in its lauded production of Macbeth by passing out opera glasses. This wasn't ideal, but it at least afforded some visibility. The company's video-enhanced production of Hamlet tries a multimedia solution. Director Dov Weinstein still single-handedly manipulates his toys while speaking an abridged version of Shakespeare's tragedy. Yet flanked by two TV monitors, he now has the option of flipping a switch to present the action on-screen. It's easier to see the frighteningly happy expressions of Mr. and Mrs. Smiley Face (Claudius and Gertrude), and when the ghost of Hamlet's father appears in Weinstein's teeth, the close-up provides a moment of genuine dental horror. Unfortunately, the task of conjuring a vivid mini-universe from a classical text has grown more cumbersome. Weinstein's sonorous voice and clever staging ideas (Hamlet's opening soliloquy delivered by an unseen consciousness, Elsinore transformed into a maze of espionage) are too often obstructed by faulty wires and tricky camera angles. Tiny Ninjas should be seen, but not stumbled over.