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Hamlet

a Tragedy
CATEGORY : DRAMA
by Willam Shakespeare

COMPANY : Georgia Shakespeare [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Oglethorpe University-Lupton Hall Auditorium [WEBSITE]
ID# 4510

SHOWING : October 03, 2013 - October 27, 2013

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PRODUCTION DESCRIPTION

Hamlet is a young man in mourning. His father is dead. His mother is remarried to his uncle. When Hamlet learns that his uncle murdered his father, he sets out to trap the King and then take his revenge. And their clash will leave a trail of dead bodies in its wake. Come experience "Hamlet" as Shakespeare’s greatest murder mystery.


CAST & CREW LIST
Gertrude Carolyn Cook
Polonius/Gravedigger Allan Edwards
Marcellus/Lucianus Dan Ford
Laertes Neal A Ghant
Ophelia Ann Marie Gideon
Claudius Chris Kayser
Ghost/Player King/Gravedigger Mark Kincaid
Francisco/Rosencrantz/Osric Tony Larkin
Horatio Eric Mendenhall
Lady Margaret/Player Queen/Priest Tiffany Denise Mitchenor
Guildenstern/Priest Eugene H. Russell IV
Click to Submit Cast & Crew Info for this production
REVIEWS

[REVIEW THIS PRODUCTION]

Alienating
by playgoer
Saturday, October 26, 2013
4.0
William Shakespeare’s "Hamlet" is one of his longer works, and is usually performed in abbreviated form. Georgia Shakespeare’s production is no exception, but still clocks in at nearly three hours (including intermission). Some well-known lines have been cut, but the show still seems a bit overlong, particularly in the gravediggers’ scene. The rural Southern accent used for the gravediggers doesn’t really work, and the double-casting of the ghost of Hamlet’s father as one gravedigger removes some of the levity.

Levity is not a strong point in this production. Hamlet starts the production distraught (in a bit of a flash-forward, it seems) and his intensity overwhelms moments of comedy. It’s comedy with an edge of danger, given the unpredictability of Hamlet’s behavior. The most comic performance comes from Allan Edwards as Polonius.

The production isn’t a laugh-fest, and shouldn’t be. It’s engaging, but not totally compelling. It certainly looks good. Sydney Roberts’ modern-day costumes work well, with flashes of scarlet at the beginning turning to a more somber palette as the show goes on. The beginning tableau has tight spots of Mike Post’s lighting on small collections of objects. The objects are moved about a good bit, and the collections don’t have any particular meaning in the overall show, it seems. They do act as an impediment in some of the blocking.

Kat Conley’s set consists of a bicycle ramp-like black scrim behind which effective action takes place from time to time and of two tilted, movable mirrors. From my vantage point at the side of the auditorium, the mirrors added nothing to the look of the show except for busy work in miniscule movements from scene to scene. Mike Post’s lighting, on the other hand, adds a lot. Composer Kendall Simpson’s orchestral work is very much run-of-the-mill Georgia Shakespeare mood-setting snippets.

Chris Kayser’s performance as Claudius seems to be more an exercise in oratory than one in acting. Tony Larkin and Dan Ford, in their debut season with Georgia Shakespeare, acquit themselves extremely well in their multiple characters. Everyone else in the cast comes across well. Carolyn Cook has the strength of a queen as Gertrude, combined with befuddlement at her son’s behavior. Ann Marie Gideon makes Ophelia a sweet girl who is likewise befuddled at Hamlet’s behavior. The only one in the cast who seems to have a firm grasp on his relationship with Hamlet is Laertes (Neal A. Ghant), who wants revenge for the (accidental) death of his father at Hamlet’s hand.

Richard Garner’s direction adds an act break in a somewhat unexpected spot, as Hamlet is about to stab his stepfather, who is kneeling in prayer. It’s a cliff-hanger ending, apparently aimed at those few in the audience who might not be aware of Hamlet’s subsequent change of heart. It does add a bit of focus to Hamlet’s second-act ruminations on how death in the act of prayer would absolve Claudius of his sin of murder. But this production seems to pin the guilt on Claudius alone, and Chris Kayser’s performance lacks any touch of villainy, treating his behavior as political business-as-usual. That leaves a huge vacuum in the middle of the show. Hamlet is seeking revenge, but no one but his dead father seems to have any shred of comprehension as to why he would do this.

This directorial misstep eviscerates the power of Joe Knezevich’s performance. One comment I heard after the show was that he was so good looking he should be on a soap opera. His good looks are no secret, but they shouldn’t be the overall impression left after seeing him perform "Hamlet." Watching him stab the pages of a book in his "To be or not to be" soliloquy (which the student near me slept through) made his character seem as incomprehensible to the audience as to the court of Elsinore. Richard Garner’s direction does not involve the hearts of audience members as it should. Hamlet appears overwrought and out of context with everyone else. It’s a very Brechtian alienation, which may make some intellectual sense, but is not emotionally compelling. The production is fully professional, but it does not capture the heart or the imagination as "Hamlet" can do. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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