by Clinton Campbell

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Tuesday September 25, 2018

Ollie West in "Hamnet."
Ollie West in "Hamnet."  

Currently, playing at ArtsEmerson is "Hamnet." A curious little sliver of a play written for a child actor and lasting only about 60 minutes.

But big things come in small packages.

Here we discover a lost 11 year old boy — yearning to be a man, yearning to know his father, yearning to be great.

There is not much in the way of plot, the show is more of a meditation on the human condition as experienced through the eyes of a child. In many ways, he seems to be an alternate version of the famous Dane with whom he is so oft confused. He even struggles to learn Hamlet's lines in his effort to be great.

There are few superlatives that would not apply to the young actor playing Hamnet — Ollie West. The role was written for him, and it shows. There is a frankness and earnestness about his presence that is mesmerizing. It seems an odd phrase in relation to a child actor but Mr. West's performance truly is a tour-de-force.

Hamnet has been earning raves around the world and Boston audiences should not miss this opportunity to see it.

Editor's note: Ollie West appears in the production through September 30. Aran Murphy to take over the role for the final four performances October 3 — 7.

"Hamnet" continues through October 7 at the Emerson Paramount Center, Robert J. Orchard Stage, 599 Washington Street, Boston, MA.. For more information, visit the ArtsEmerson website