Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

July 22, 2013


Williamstown Theatre, Williamstown, MA
through July 21, 2013
by Shera Cohen

Betty Hapgood is no James Bond. One obvious difference between the two is that she is female. She is also a mom. Bond is suave, drinks martinis, and dresses impeccably. Hapgood is brittle, matter of fact, and wears off-the-rack skirts. However, similarities outweigh one side of this seesaw of espionage. Both fictional characters are British spies, hate the Russians, pack guns, are intelligent, and A+ at their jobs. While both worked in the 1980’s and might have passed in the corridors outside of M’s office, there would have been no attraction. Bond would never bed Hapgood because she’s too bright and, after all, a mother. Hapgood, in turn, would dismiss Bond because he is a high maintenance risk-taker.

Tom Stoppard penned “Hapgood.” Who am I and/or any critic from In the Spotlight in Springfield, MA to cast aspersions on this Academy Award and Tony Award winning writer? For the most part, spotlight reviews take the material as a given, commenting on the production qualities instead. Exception must be made regarding “Hapgood.” The play is uninteresting and seems unfinished. Kate Burton – a marvelous actress and mainstay at Williamstown for 18 years – tries so hard to make Hapgood real, but she fails to make her character and the play much more than two-hours of ho hum theatre. No fault can be found with any of the actors – each pulling his weight to try to make “Hapgood” good.

Note that every reviewer has his/her opinion. For Stoppard lovers of “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead,” “Travesties” and “Arcadia” there are those who don’t like any of the above. Yet, there is other Stoppard work like “The Real Inspector Hound,” “Round Crossing” and “Shakespeare in Love.” Each of these deserves high marks.