Sunday, June 17 was The New Orleans Shakespeare Festival's first matinee performance of William Shakespeare's HAMLET, directed by Clare Moncrief. The show was held in Lupin Theater inside of Dixon Annex on Tulane University's campus.
Previous to the play's beginning, Claudius has poisoned his brother King Hamlet and married his sister-in-law Gertrude. Gertrude's son Prince Hamlet is overcome with grief after his father's death and seeks revenge against Claudius for his acts of murder and incest. The play explores Hamlet's relationships with the beautiful Ophelia, as well as his comrades Horatio, Rosencrantz, and Guildenstern. I will not give away the ending, but it is considered a tragedy for a reason.
Most impressive in this play were the costumes designed by Cecile Casey Covert. Each character had multiple costumes that were very detailed and distinct. Gertrude was adorned in beautiful, bold colored gowns while Ophelia wore simpler gowns in lighter hues. Prince Hamlet seemed to always be wearing a vest, and was dressed in darker grays and black. The courtiers Rosencrantz and Guildenstern were topped off with hats and long coats, which they wore throughout the performance.
Equally as impressive was the set. Lupin Theater is quite small; however the use of a thrust stage allowed the actors to have more room to move around. The stage was painted to look like a marble floor and the upstage area was painted black with a platform system to create a second layer. Minimal props were used in order to avoid skewing the audience's view of the stage from certain angles. The actors were conscious to not keep their backs turned to one side for a lengthy amount of time. An interesting effect used was a set of screens hanging above the audience on the right and left sides. The screens showed images such as tapestries or forest scenes to match the setting for each scene, since an intricate set was not used.
Overall, this performance was very enjoyable. Shakespeare lovers will appreciate the classic interpretation of this play. Bravo to Dave Davis and Danny Bowen for their portrayals of Prince Hamlet and Claudius! I have seen several renditions of HAMLET, and they brought a new dimension to their characters that I have not seen before. I would have never thought that I would pity these two characters rather than harboring hatred for Claudius and praising Hamlet as a hero.
If you life in the New Orleans area, this is a show that you should not miss out on. The run time is approximately three hours including a fifteen-minute intermission. Remaining matinees are scheduled for June 30 and July 8 at 1:30pm, and remaining evening performances are scheduled for June 28, July 5, and July 7 at 7:30pm. Tickets are $25, and seating is general admission. To purchase tickets contact the Lupin Theater Box Office by calling (504) 865-5106, emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or by purchasing online.