Hamlet: To praise or not to praise

Many have read Shakespeare's Hamlet, but few have seen it come to life as it has on the stage of the AWC Theater.

A classic plot

This play, directed by Theatre Professor Chip Straley, takes place in and around Elsinore Castle in Denmark. Hamlet (Jonathan Close) receives a heart-wrenching message from a ghost (Michael Kennedy) that sets him on a revengeful streak against his uncle, King Claudius (Ed Villavert). His uncle, it seems, has taken the place of Hamlet's dead father by marrying his own sister-in-law, Queen Gertrude (Lynnsey Herndon).

On Hamlet's quest for revenge, he also runs into love trouble with Ophelia (Kaleah Dryer), which affects his relationship with her mother Lady Polonia (Deb Winters) and brother Laertes (Brian Grosvenor). Thus the story unfolds with bits of drama, sorrow, laughter and shock.

Impressive acting

Close is especially impressive as he fully immerses himself into the role of Hamlet and delivers his lines effortlessly. Being the main character, Hamlet has many complicated soliloquies.

Also strong is Winters, who maintains a wonderful fluctuation in her voice, and is always entertaining as the mother of Ophelia. Similarly, Dryer, too, is able to project various emotions while delivering her lines, always with a strong voice.

Lastly, honorable mention goes to Michael Mayle, who plays a minor role as a gravedigger, adding a touch of comic relief with his songs and his banter with Prince Hamlet.

On the technical side

Although the play runs about three hours, it is a very impressive and elaborate production. For starters, it's Shakespeare, so you know it uses complicated and unfamiliar language.

On the technical side, the set of the castle creates an effective reality, and the costumes are straight out of the medieval period. Appropriately, the lights are more blue during the night, and spotlights are used on the ghost to emphasize his presence. The gradual lighting transition between night and day, rather than a quick switch, is a nice touch.

Perhaps the weakest points of the production are that the music sometimes seems off or unnecessary, and the progression of the acts is hard to keep up with.

Otherwise, the choice of Shakespeare makes for an outstanding final production for the academic year and is a clever way of drawing in community members. Kudos to Straley and the Theatre program for a job well done!

Hamlet continues this week on Wednesday through Saturday nights at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday afternoon at 2:30p.m.

Share this article