Hamlet is a classic play that has been presented by many theatres for many years. It is a difficult play, with a large cast, and a complex script, but the Jungle Theater presented Hamlet with what seems to be a resounding success. Not only did they capture the essence of Hamlet, but gave the play new life for today’s era.
The Jungle’s adaptation of Hamlet was not the classical rendition most theatres choose to produce. The first scene begins in a security camera control room, which is accessed by an elevator. A huge TV screen fills the wall and there are swivel chairs and a in one, a uniformed guard. Though this seems like it could not possibly be Hamlet, the guard’s first words were Bernardo’s line, “Who’s there?” From then on, it is clear, that though the play is staying true to Shakespeare’s script, the style of the play is slightly more current. The director, Bain Boehlke, took a big risk in adapting Shakespeare’s classic play to fit today’s society. By including TV’s, security cameras, cell phones, and iPads in his choice of props and set, Boehlke was forced to change everything associated with the classic seventeenth century Hamlet renditions. The actors wore clothes you could buy from a local department store. Even Hamlet came out in a sweatshirt and jeans. The set changes were accompanied by a screen projector telling the time and place of the next scene. The set itself was founded on six moveable pillars which called for the simplicity usually found in contemporary buildings. All of these modern twists seemed to be out of place when thinking of Shakespeare’s play, and although skepticism ran, Boehlke seems to have made it a fabulous show.
Boehlke would not have gone far though without the help of a dynamite cast. Hamlet in its classic form is hard enough, but trying to make the script seem natural for the world as it is today was an even bigger challenge. Michelle Barber and Bradley Greenwald, who played Queen Gertude and King Claudius respectively, filled their roles well, but were reminiscent of their classic roles. Ophelia was probably one of the weakest leads because she seemed least believable, but she almost may have had one of the most difficult roles to adapt to the current times. The real talent seemed to be in the young men of the show. Hamlet, played by Hugh Kennedy, and Horatio, played by Paul Rutledge, made the acting seem effortless and carried the play. Kennedy especially seemed to seamlessly blend Shakespeare’s original script with modern gestures, movements, and expressions. The believability of their characters and their character’s friendship truly may have made the play such a success.
Though The Jungle’s presentation of Hamlet was a far cry from Shakespeare’s classic play, it was indeed a performance worth seeing. For audience members both familiar with Hamlet and those new to the play it was a well-crafted show, filled with talented actors and actresses. Boehlke seems to have made a compelling rendition of a timeless play that fits today’s modern culture.
This page contains a single entry by Mark Harvey published on September 19, 2011 6:47 PM.
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Ladies Man - Duluth Playhouse is the next entry in this blog.
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