"The play's the thing ..." there are few phrases more familiar to the theater going public. The Indiana Repertory Theatre has brought back the show where that line originated. "Hamlet" is now playing on their upperstage.
The show incorporates current elements of culture into the original text for easy relatability. This includes a shared iPod song, a quick game of hacky sack and a few cellphone calls. One of the finer uses of this tactic was an easily interchanged video recorder for the musical recorder in a scene with Hamlet and his patsy friends Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.
Matthew Brumlow walks the tightrope of sanity as the show's title character. He has just the right blend of discontent and contempt. He never completely reveals his cards, veering from cheeky jest to tortured rage in an instant.
Jessica Martin takes on the role of Ophelia, a woman easily swayed and confused by the events unfolding around her. She demonstrates the pendulum swing between family loyalty and a lover scorned with excellent precision. Her decent into madness begins when she believes Hamlet's love has waned and is complete with her father's murder.
The genius of Shakespeare lies in his ability to tell a story while still leaving some things to the audiences discretion. Is Hamlet truly mad? Did Ophelia commit suicide? These are questions that have been debated for centuries and this production does a wonderful job leaving the answers just out of the audience's reach.
The 90 minute show is brief enough to appeal to a younger crowd. The original language hasn't been changed, just trimmed. There is also a Q & A included at the end of each show where audiences members can talk with the cast. The show is well suited for those new to the Bard or longtime devotees.
Performances: "Hamlet'" closed Nov. 3, 2007.