Oldie But Not So Goodie

Walking into the Guthrie Theater, I did not know much about Hamlet. My first impression was of the stage with mute colors and a light that gave the illusion of light coming through the window of the set which gave off a mysterious atmosphere.

That mystery carried through in the opening scene. The ghost had a great presence and the smoke, light and voice effects really drew me into the character and those scenes. The costume made him look like Neptune, a ghost sailer and the sunglasses the ghost had were a good choice as they made him look more other worldly and it separated him from the other characters as a more powerful leader.

On the other hand Hamlet’s costume felt very out of place, and broke me out of the immersion I had in the show. It was like he showed up in his casual black jeans and t-shirt topped with some old beanie and everyone was like “good enough.”

However, the costumes Gertrude wore always felt very queenly and like she was dressed for the scene, but her acting didn’t feel big enough; the scene where Hamlet killed Polonius, where her character should have had lots of emotion felt lost and the end her death felt rushed and there was an absence of emotional impact as she stumbled.

Acting continued on that path that was as sparse as the set and I just consistently felt like it would get caught up in the words and the world wasn’t building around it and the storyline became faded.

When all the characters were saying Hamlet went mad, but his character just felt like a rebellious teenager giving sass and the traces of him going crazy were not there. It made it almost comedic.

The first scenes with Ophelia and Laertes were good and you could see those characters bond but it lost momentum as the play went on. Ophelia’s acting was good but got drowned out by the other actors. When her character was burdened by grief and starting to lose it at the end the acting felt authentic but incomplete because the other actors wouldn’t play into it. The personalities of the characters and emotional connections between characters just weren’t there.

Overall, this show felt lacking in many places. The actors that put heart in it were blocked by the incomplete acting of others and created a play that is best remembered by the history that came before it.