By Christian Regan
Rating: 5/5 acorns
For many students, Shakespeare is that stuffy guy with the funny frilly thing on his neck that wrote all those silly old British plays. For Theatre Arts and English Majors, he is respected as a driving force in playwriting and theatrical performance. But when it comes to Shakespeare for everyone else, he is oft thought of as a man of the past, his plays are relics of a time with different clothes and different accents. Thanks to Professor of Theatre Arts, Dan LaPenta and his phenomenal cast of Hamlet, one such relic, “Hamlet,” breathes new life in a modern era.
The most common complaint about classical theater, Shakespeare in particular, is that the plot is complicated and the words make it hard to follow. Naturally, one thinks to replace all of those silly “thou” and “thine” into more common language. LaPenta took a different twist on this modernization. He took all of these complicated soliloquies and series of monologues, and simply put it into modern day. From guards dressed in military fatigues holding machine guns to iPhones used to take notes and messages, this modern twist holds just as true to the script as an Elizabethan production.
This modern twist can often mislead actors and ruin a show. However, this production makes it look easy, as if it was always meant for a modern setting. This credit goes to the actors just as much as it does the director, so I’d like to take a moment and comment on some performances that blow this show out of the water. Nate Schwartz (’18) plays Hamlet, a role that commonly falls into pity and angst. But Schwartz brings a life to Hamlet that profoundly and eloquently details the anguished machinations that this wronged prince bears.
His energy and talent is heightened and complemented by the phenomenal performances by MJ Santry (’19) as Ophelia and Logan Fish (’19) as Laertes. Santry and Fish play two sides of a coin, balancing each other’s energy and dominating the stage with their performances.
On the topic of larger than life performances, major kudos has to be paid to Professor of Theatre Arts and Chair of the Department of Theatre and Dance Chris Ceraso. His portrayal of the Ghost of Hamlet Sr. was haunting, but his role as the first gravedigger show was a talent in comedy that could only be expected of a professional. Drew lauds itself as a school with professors that are true professionals, some still practicing and working in their fields, and Ceraso proves that in spades.
This modern take makes Shakespeare accessible. LaPenta and his cast and crew have put hours and hours of work into this show, and they continue to demonstrate that dedication night after night. The show will run today, tomorrow and from Oct. 26-29 at 7p.m. with 2 p.m. matinees, so there are ample opportunities to come out and see it. And with the work put into this production and the talent overflowing from every minute, I highly recommend that this show makes it into your schedule.
[Feature Image courtesy of Lynn Delade]