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Richard Garner's Case

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Director Richard Garner's version of Hamlet was as good as it will get for most of the general population of college students. I don't know how many of us actually take joy in going to see Shakespeare plays, but to speak for myself, I think I would rather watch a little league baseball game. However, Garner did wonders with this play and actually made it enjoyable for me, particularly by making this version of Hamlet more modern than others.

Garner provided the perfect mix of a more modernized Hamlet and the traditional Hamlet, though the overall appearance of the play seemed more modern than traditional. The stage set up was rather simple, consisting of only two mirrors that characters would occasionally look into and several props that are used throughout the play. This simple set up exemplified a modern setting. The red dress Gertrude wore throughout most of the play was probably the closest thing to anything that the characters in Hamlet would have worn in that time period. The rest of the characters wore clothing that better represented present day clothing styles. The down side to having a more contemporary wardrobe in this play was that it felt like it didn't really fit the characters at all. Claudius was in a suit fit more for a company CEO than a well-respected King. Though the play was modern in most aspects, the language used in this version of Hamlet is of the traditional text.

In all plays, it's up to the actors to sell the production and make it enjoyable for the audience. Throughout the play, the actor playing Hamlet continued to steal the show with his clear delivery and overall ability to connect with the crowd. The scene in Gertrude's closet was one of my favorites because it was the first time we got to see Hamlet that aggressive and it forced me to zero in on the situation simply as a result of deep interest from the actor's ability to convey particular emotions to the audience. In every scene Hamlet was in, he was the character I focused on because his presence was the strongest on the stage.

Though Hamlet was by far the best character, the crowd favorite seemed to be Polonius. The actor's portrayed Polonious as a pretty likeable character, however not through his actions, but mostly through the way he spoke with intelligent sarcasm. His lines occasionally sent small waves of laughter through the crowd. There really weren't any other characters that stood out from the others, at least positively. Ophelia definitely stood out in the beginning with her flower print skirt. She looked like an innocent, out of place little girl. She was the only one on stage who looked like she didn't belong. Ophelia eventually came around, though. Her character was really allowed to emerge in the scenes in which she was mad. In a nutshell, this entire play encapsulates that. The play itself often lacked action and excitement but flourished in the scenes with the most "meat",



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