A touch of class: Hamlet
Monash University Academy Of Performing Arts
By Evan Papamichael
This is an excellent play. In the guaranteed handling of a different theme it is a sophisticated example of how words can be expressed in a thousand ways. Several of the cast take turns (both two men and two women) at playing the part of our protagonist Hamlet. We are introduced to the first scene where Hamlet meets the ghost of his father. Mystery, tension and mood are put to the test. We feel tension as the cast is wearing black coats to depict horror, death and sorrow. The same black coat is passed from one actor to the other as if transforming each one of their lines from a small piece of fear, to greater tension and then a climax.
We are introduced to the fact that Hamlet’s sanity is questioned by those around him, namely, Claudius the king and Gertrude his mother. Hamlet has been notified by the ghost that his father that he was murdered by Claudius. It was a sinister plot where poison was put into the ear of Hamlet’s father as he was sleeping. To prove that Hamlet is telling the truth, he creates a play where Claudius and Gertrude are in the audience. Not only does Hamlet star in the play but he includes subliminal messages depicting his father’s murder. The actors in the play are convincing, tactful and comprehensive in gaining the true impact of the severity of the incident. Claudius is shattered with guilt and runs away. Therefore Hamlet’s sanity is in tact and he is proved to be honest and accurate in interpreting the ghost’s words at the opening scene.
In Hamlet’s first soliloquy he expressed anger and frustration at his mother for getting married to her late husband’s brother. Where Hamlet states “Hyperion to a satyr” he expressed that a goat and man together symbolize lust at its uppermost extent. As Hamlet says “She married-O, most wicked speed” he shows outrage in the reaction to his mother’s sexuality. Hamlet perceives Gertrude as immoral and degrading as she married her brother-in-law “Within a month”, to satisfy her sexual desires. In Hamlet’s next soliloquy where he states “To be, or not to be-that is the question”, he is expressing here, whether the necessary action should take place? Meaning, to avenge his father’s murder. The rhetorical question which follows whether tis nobler in the mind to suffer means is it better to leave things as they are, or to take action which will probably cause Hamlet’s death, either by suicide or as retribution against Claudius for killing Hamlet’s late father.
Hamlet is able to control himself and not make an attempt on his life. This shows that our protagonist Hamlet is logical, tactful and therefore should be taken seriously. When Hamlet states “Get thee to a nunnery” he explains that this is the only safe shelter for his girlfriend, Ophelia. Hamlet has a disgusted notion of women as he describes his mother as a “bawd” (slut).Due to this dishonesty and constant preoccupation of corruption of the moral code, Hamlet sees women as painting themselves in a particular way, which he is not in favour of. Hamlet used to be an idealist but because of his mother’s actions, he has such contaminated feelings of women.
The costumes worn by the actors are simple and appropriate. We do not see classic or antiquated clothing but something simplistic. The actors make use of strong acting skills, clear and coherent voices and an interpretation of the play to make the whole experience enjoyable and believable. I liked it how at one part of the play, ancient Greek masquerade masks were used, to show some mystery, tension and to build up the anxiety and suspense of the play. The whole performance was shiny and glossy, in what was a transformation from an horrific story line to an interesting, coherent and enjoyable play. At the end I came out glossy and shiny too.