When I read “Hamlet” as a high school senior for English, I thought it earned its right as a classic story, but it never really made my top 10, or even my top 100. However, with the Truman State theatre department’s art-nouveau take on “Hamlet,” I have a whole new appreciation for this Shakespearean play.
Not only does the theatre department switch up what most people expect out of “Hamlet” with a costume selection reflecting more on modern times, but the theatre department also utilizes a gender blind cast.
The women acting as men in this production do an outstanding job carrying out the role of their characters. Junior Katie Corum perfectly depicts Hamlet’s dramatic nature and his bouts of misleading madness and senior Kaitlyn Cotrow absolutely kills it as Polonious, adding new depth to his character as a comic relief. Her makeup and costume were so well done it was easy to forget his character was played by a woman.
Emphasizing the art-nouveau theme of the play, the costume design for each of the characters brought “Hamlet” into the 21st century. Ophelia, played by junior Marissa Butler, wore everything from high waisted slacks to a hipster-esque lace dress with a flower boa draped across her shoulders. And the fact that she carries a camera with her not only as a costume prop but as a functional piece of her wardrobe that she uses often throughout the play makes her look even more out of the box. Everything about the costume choice encompassed trends of today without sacrificing the character’s personality.
Actors liberally used the space around the stage to their advantage and it works well, especially as the ghost of Hamlet’s father and former king of Denmark, played by P.J. Fister, wandered through the night. The billowing white panels of fabric paired with the lighting set the mood for the play and give the entire set a dramatic tone in every scene. And the music variation fit perfectly with the dialogue, from the quick string plucks during lighter, comical scenes to the dark piano fades in the more intense scenes.
Everything from cast to costume to stage made this version of “Hamlet” an extraordinary experience. Overall, I give Truman’s “Hamlet” a must-see 10/10.
Go see the last performance of “Hamlet” tonight at 8 p.m. at the James G. Severns Theater. Tickets are $5. Tickets must be paid for in advance, except for out of town guests. For any questions about tickets, call the box office at 660-785-4515.