Friday, July 4, 2014

Review of Hamlet at Oak Park Festival Theatre

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Hamlet. It was directed by Lavina Jadhwani and the play was by William Shakespeare. It was adapted by Doug Finlayson and Lavina Jadhwani. It is about a man named Hamlet (Michael McKeogh) whose father (Will Clinger) had died and his mother Gertrude (Kelly Lynn Hogan) got married to his father's brother Claudius (Jack Hickey) and he was not very happy about that because he felt like his mom never actually loved his dad. Even though this show is about revenge, love, and hate, it is still a fun show; I like how the story was set in the jazz age because I love jazz music and it was a very complicated time. It is also a time when there were a lot of little secret clubs for people who wanted to drink alcohol when it was not legal. I also liked how it was set in a hotel.

I liked how Horatio (Michael Pogue) was basically the storyteller of the entire play. I mean like how he introduced the play with his lines from the end of the play about what has happened here and he's telling Fortinbras about it. But there is no Fortibras in this production, so he is telling basically the audience as if he is putting on a play about it. I liked this actor because I could always understand what he was saying and you really felt that he actually felt sadness from Hamlet's and Ophelia's deaths. You kind of felt like he was telling you the story. He was kind of making his own version of "All the world's a stage" because he was saying, this is a play and I will tell you the story of what has happened to me and my best friend and that it is true.

I liked the actor's choices about what kind of a person Hamlet was. He was so sad about his father's death that he turns himself into a drunk. He is drinking a lot, and breaking the law, and going crazy. He is a distressed and distraught man. And when he sees Horatio again he feels happier. And when he sees his father he feels even happier, but then he sees that he needs revenge and that makes him angry and he feels like he needs to get that revenge to live. I felt that he did really love Ophelia (Sara Pavlak) but he just didn't know how to show that he loved her. I think he is not really mad at her, he is more mad at himself and just generally mad. When he finds out she is dead he is really sad because he really did love her but one of the last things he said to her was "Go to a nunnery and I hate you."

I thought that Rosencrantz (Matthew Gall) and Guildenstern (Luke Daigle) were kind of drunks, because they always were carrying around a flask and finding places to fill it up, and I think that is a fun way to portray them. You never really think of them like that. I also thought that worked with the time period really well. The coin flipping I thought was a great reference to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. And I also liked how they saw Hamlet as like their best friend and when they met him again he was a big weirdo and you could see that in their faces and I thought that was good.

I thought that the players (Jhenai Mootz, Will Clinger, Sean Kelly) in this were great characters, I think because they were different from other Hamlets that I have seen. They were different because even though the rest of the play was not in Elizabethan times, they put on an Elizabethan play. You could tell because of their clothing and the way they talked. I thought it was funny when Hamlet was talking to Polonius (Michael Joseph Mitchell) like a crazy person but he didn't seem to be crazy around the players. I think it was because he didn't want to seem crazy around the players because he needed their help to make his uncle feel pain and be scared. Polonius is trying not to act scared and weirded out like when Hamlet has stuck his head beneath Polonius' coattails. I liked that choice, how Polonius was kind of scared of the King and Hamlet because he felt if he didn't do everything right he thought the King would have him executed or something like that. He doesn't want the King to think he is making his stepson like this, so he decides to try to play along with Hamlet.

I really believed it when Laertes (Michael Mercier) found out that Ophelia had died; I really felt for him. I liked how they changed his duel with Hamlet to boxing (violence designed by R&D Choreography), but I didn't really like how he brought in a knife halfway through the fight. I think they should have just chosen one. I think that he feels like he serves the King until Hamlet stabs him and then he is angry at Hamlet but he is also the only person he wants to talk to at this moment that he's dying: Hamlet and not the King. I liked the special effects blood; I thought that was very good.

People who would like this show are people who like jazz, Shakespeare, and storytelling. I really liked how this show was outside and that makes this a very fun show to be at. It is different than a lot of other Hamlets that there are, so if you want to see a new kind of Hamlet, go and see this!

Photos: Johnny Knight

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