Hamlet in the Cemetery
I'm going to start with costumes. I thought they were phenomenal. They were modern with a classic twist. When Hamlet first shows his "madness" he came out in mismatched socks (a reference to an earlier line Ophelia said about his stockings), a "Denmark Correctional Facility" button up shirt that was ripped and missing a sleeve, bunny slippers, a hat, and unkempt pants. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern (who were separated by color... Rosencrantz wore red and Guildenstern wore green) were dressed like two well-paid toughs. Horatio was sporting the sweater vest, and daggers and swords accompanied many of these costumes.
The stage was several rugs lined up in a thrust type stage, and seating was allowed all the way up to the rugs. The props were minimal and usually came with the character. The stage was in front of a tree and they tied up a banner type thing for Polonius to hide behind. It wasn't fastened to the ground and the wind was strong which led to difficulties, but the actors handled it very well.
[I'm only going to talk about the ones that stood out to me... sorry]
Hamlet - I have never understood the "melancholy Hamlet". It doesn't make sense to me. I don't get that impression from reading it. At the beginning of the play I was concerned that we were going to get a melancholy Hamlet, but then I put it in perspective. His dad just died, his mom remarried within a month or two... married his uncle. He was justified in his emotions, and to my joy, he ended up being an excellent Hamlet. Hamlet, for the record, was performed by Justin Scalise. He wasn't my favorite Hamlet, but he is up there. I was impressed. His comedic timing was excellent.
Polonius - I have always hated Polonius. I always think of him as a weasel. I don't know what gives me this impression, but he bothers me. I am willing to admit when I'm wrong. I was so wrong about Polonius. Chuck Ney, professor of directing and acting at TSU, portrayed Polonius, and it was hilarious. It was slightly reminiscent of Bottom the Weaver (one of my favorite Shakespeare characters). Looking at the program, it said he was also in a performance of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and I have to wonder if he was Bottom. Polonius was no longer the weasel and demanding father. He was a bumbling man who meant well and just always ended up getting the wrong end of the stick... or dagger. So, I have to give major kudos to Chuck Ney for changing my mind about Polonius.
Claudius - Hamlet's uncle and recently crowned king of Denmark, performed by Andrew Matthews, is a bad guy... but I couldn't help but like him for the first part of the play. I know the uncle is a totally sketchy guy, but Matthews made me like him. I didn't want to. I know what he did. I feel like he should take a stab at Iago. Iago is one of the most evil characters ever written, but he is so charismatic that you can't help but laugh at and with him. Matthews isn't quite there yet, but I think he has it in him.
The Grave Digger - One of my favorite characters in this play. The grave digger was played by Robert Deike and he was spot on. Hilarious! The timing and execution were awesome. The interpretation of the lines (I don't know if this was the actor's doing or the director's) made me re-appreciate this whole scene!
Director - Andrew Matthews (mentioned earlier) directed this play, and he did a fantastic job. I was quite impressed. I really appreciated his take and interpretation of the lines. Brilliant.
This was not my favorite performance of "Hamlet" but, because I'm such a harsh critic, I really enjoyed it and will list it in my top 3 mainly because it changed my perceptions of how the play should be done. Kudos!