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Friday, July 3, 2009

The Thing's the Play

See what I did there?
Okay, maybe you don't.
Anyway, I was fortunate enough last night to see the opening of the Colorado Shakespeare Festival's production of perhaps the most oft-quoted play ever written, Hamlet.
I know that for most of you Hamlet conjures images of morose, suicidal angst. Essentially, it's the ultimate Emo experience.
What is often overlooked is just how witty and intelligent the script is. Shakespeare was a genius, remember, and this just might be his greatest work. (Now, I suppose I should warn you that there are a few "spoilers" ahead, but, really, don't we all kind of know the story?)
The advice that Polonius (played smartly by Sam Sandoe) gives to his departing son Laertes (Mat Hostetler) have become household phrases. Many people mistakenly attribute "neither a borrower nor lender be" to the Bible. This is the level of connection that modern society has to Hamlet.
It's a tragedy, yes, and it is sad, heartbreaking. The breakdown of Ophelia (Jamie Ann Romero) is horrific. The audience actually gasped.
Director Philip C. Sneed recognizes, however, that Shakespeare intended to keep us on our toes throughout. There is so much humor in this play, and that, as much as any of the soliloquies or plot twists, is the brilliance of the work. What is the tragedy of Polonius's demise if we don't first delight at his every entrance? Some of the impact of Ophelia's funeral is the guilt that we feel having just laughed hysterically at the morbid humor of the gravedigger (Gary Allan Wright). Hamlet is a rollercoaster ride. Sneed gets this, and the CSF production is the better for it.
Of course, the play Hamlet fails or succeeds on the strength of the actor playing the title character, and Stephen Weitz definitely does not disappoint. I don't want to say too much about Weitz's performance, because I really would like to let it be as much of a surprise and a treat for you as it was for me.
Hamlet is definitely worth checking out, piglets. Follow the link, you know the drill.

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