May 31, 2016

Hamlet

This year marks the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death. Yet centuries later the themes of his plays prove timeless and relevant. Hamlet, a First Folio production currently being staged at Ben Davis, tells the familiar tale of a young man consumed by grief and revenge. The plot of Hamlet, like so many of Shakespeare's other works, could've been written today

This production has been edited down to a brisk 2 hours. Extended scenes with the players and characters like Rosencrantz and Guildenstern end up on the cutting room floor, but the show flows beautifully. A few rearranged scenes and the audience is thrown into the action quickly and left hanging when the intermission comes. Glenn Dobbs direction keeps things moving smoothly.  The whole show feels more action packed than other more reflective stagings. The final swordfight, choreographed by Scott Russell, is one of the best I’ve seen. Each fighter has a sword and dagger and they duel with convincing speed and precision.

Our Hamlet is played by Carey Shea with complete dedication. He’s at once astounded by his mother’s choices, disgusted by his uncle’s treachery, and delighted as his plots to catch them out come to fruition. Devan Matthias’ Ophelia is a casualty in his war to avenge his father. When her sanity snaps it doesn’t do so subtly.   

Two other stand outs in the cast are Polonius, played by Tom Weingartner and Matt Anderson’s Claudius. Polonius is nauseatingly pompous and long-winded. He is the quintessential know-it-all. Meanwhile Claudius comes across as more morally conflicted in this version. Despite his dark deeds there is room for guilt and confliction in Anderson’s portrayal. 

There will never be a shortage of Hamlet productions, but this one shouldn’t be missed. With a few steampunk elements, a streamlined plot, and an excellent cast it’s an accessible version for anyone to enjoy.
Don't Miss the Show 
The show runs until Sunday, June 5 at Ben Davis High School (1200 North Girls School Road, Indianapolis) so hurry to get tickets. For more information or to purchase tickets call (317) 988-7966 or online here.
 


Photos by Joe Konz