“Hamlet” might be one of the most overworked shows in history, but there is no way Hofstra’s production could be called usual or overdone unless you were alive in 1599.
On Thursday night, “Hamlet” opened as part of Hofstra’s 68th Annual Shakespeare Festival at the new Hofstra Globe Stage.
The production had the feel of what Shakespeare would have wanted – tragic, but funny with all the quirks of a 1599 production. It was a Shakespearian masterpiece in its simplest form.
Many make Hamlet tragic to a fault, with his brooding soliloquies and heartbreaking fate, but this production makes Hamlet more sarcastic and likable.
The daunting task of playing the Prince of Denmark was filled by junior William Ketter, but he executed the role with such ease and poise that you could say that he was made to play the part.
Ketter brought out the funny side of “Hamlet” and spoke the language so well that the audience could actually understand what was being said instead of just laughing along with the crowd.
From the opening, you could tell that this production was not a modern take on the play. With the lights still up in the house, the show began with the sound of horns and held you throughout the first hour and a half. The whole cast is to thank for that, especially Justin Chevalier. Though we all know King Claudius to be a manipulative brute, Chevalier brought a certain meanness, despite looking like the King from Burger King.
When it comes to the rest of the supporting cast, they were all equally as talented and
outstanding. Andrew Salzano and Richard Dupkin were hysterical as Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. Samantha Havilland’s Ophelia was so heartbreakingly beautiful that she had you feeling for her loss more than Hamlet’s.
The real star of the show, however, was the set and stage. The new Globe Stage is a character all on its own. It is so grand and magnificent that while the action is happening on stage, your eyes can’t help but to wander over the decoration.
What made this production different from others at Hofstra was its historical accuracy to the production and time. Not only was it on the stage that Shakespeare wrote his plays for, but it was also performed with the music of the time and no lighting design. It was a real Shakespearian experience.
Even if you cannot stand Shakespeare or fear that you would not understand what is
happening, run to the Playhouse. One thing is for certain, you do not want to miss this production. It is unlike anything Hofstra has done in recent years.
“Hamlet” is playing at the John Cranford Adams Playhouse Friday, March 10, at 8 p.m.; Saturday, March 11, at 8 p.m.; Sunday, March 12, at 2 p.m.