Title: Anderson University students play “Hamlet”
A capably produced rendition of “Hamlet” -- William Shakespeare’s definitive work – came to the Byrum Performance Center stage this past weekend at Anderson University, weaving a classic tale of treachery, love and madness. Hamlet, a dour young prince of Elizabethan Denmark, is visited by his recently-deceased father's ghost. The apparition reveals to his son that his death was the result of treachery -- a murder by his own brother.
The king’s brother and his murderer, Claudius, then marries the queen Gertrude and claims the throne. Vowing to avenge his father's murder, Hamlet begins slipping into insanity, obsessed with his mission.
Hamlet’s betrothed, Ophelia, attempts to comfort the disturbed prince only to be violently cast aside without explanation. Rounding out the play are several incidental characters -- Rosencrantz, Gildenstern, Horatio, and Ophelia's father and comic relief, Polonius.
Anderson University's interpretation of “Hamlet” remained true to the original text, with minimal editing for the sake of brevity. As with most Shakespearean plays, Hamlet's complexity of character and language makes it a difficult play to produce effectively.
The eloquent soliloquies, if placed in the wrong mouths, can be transformed into long, labored speeches that cause the audience to pay more attention to their watches than the stage. Shakespeare's dry wit, if delivered by an inexperienced actor under poor direction, can tumble into the audience unnoticed.
The AU version of the Shakespearean classic sidestepped virtually all of these pitfalls, delivering an overall clean performance under the direction of Donqueline Fulp. Fulp, an AU senior majoring in theater, directed the performance as well as played the tragic Ophelia.
“I have always loved ‘Hamlet,’” Fulp said. “The love Hamlet has for his father, the complex characters and use of language, I've always been drawn to it.”
Fulp cast herself as Ophelia, giving one of the most powerful performances of the evening.
“Her character is absolutely beautiful,” she said of Ophelia.
Most of the characters were played well, a couple were exceptional.
Jay Hinkleman, who fleshed out the character of Polonius, gave a vivacious performance as Ophelia's overbearing father. Using inflection, Hinkleman delivered the lines in a way as to overcome the cumbersome Shakespearean language -- making it palatable to the audience.
He backed up the words with flawless acting, gesturing and using facial expression to give lines further meaning. In performances like Hinkleman's and Fulp's, the Shakespearean language was not a barrier but a springboard with which to bring their performances to a higher level.
For more information about performances at the Byrum Performance Center at AU, please call 765-641-4351.
----Keri S. McGrath is a feature writer for the Anderson Herald-Bulletin.