The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.1634  Monday, 15 July 2002

From:           Douglas Chapman <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Friday, 12 Jul 2002 12:17:14 EDT
Subject:        Hamlet in Sioux Falls

I saw Ivan's Hamlet last evening. The one featuring the 8-month pregnant

This is the best rendition of Hamlet I've seen.

A word of explanation. Not to pen a lengthy review (which the
performance deserves) but I have always been standoffish about Hamlet.
Reading joyous fits of ecstasy a la H. Bloom have never made me warm to
this over-long and, to me--very strange--play.

Ivan cut just the right parts to perform it outdoors in the "round" in
two hours without intermission. Bravo! It worked as a play like I never
seen it before.

That said, I found the fuss over an obviously pregnant Gertrude
inconsequential. She was in a smock most of the time, and dressed as a
gravedigger merely looked a bit short and squat. The "realism" of a
pregnant queen was for me made unimportant by the genderless casting.
Alerts: a young high school girl (very talented); Horatio a young
college girl. If one came to accept THESE castings then why worry over
the pregnancy of the queen in "real" terms? Now if Vicki had been a
pregnant Claudius? Would that have been more or less a question than a
female teen Laertes?

Ivan made the play work. It was marvelous to see Hamlet as much more
than a whiny do nothing. Two especially innovative calls (at least for
me): Ophelia and Hamlet in obvious cahoots when Cl. and Pol. are behind
the arras; Gertrude seeing the ghost, but then pretending not to.

The queen, played by a pregnant female, became irrelevant as I must say
(albeit a bit grudgingly) did a female Laertes. By duel-time, she (he)
really had me. Bravo director.

Tutti bravi cast.

This is one Hamlet all SHAKSPEReans should have the opportunity to see.
And the admission is free!

Douglas Chapman

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