“Hamlet”: A modern day tragedy

A modern-dress “Hamlet” focused tightly on family relationships drew enthusiastic audiences to the Little Theater March 16 through 18.

The production, directed by English teacher James Bell, explored Prince Hamlet’s struggles with morals and revenge when his deceased father comes to him from beyond the grave to say that he was murdered. The murderer: Claudius, the King’s brother, who has just married Hamlet’s mother.

Junior Lauren Rainey played the title role. “Hamlet is a story about a teenager struggling with trauma and privilege, which is really similar to the experience of a lot of people in our community coming out of the pandemic and as a pretty well-off suburb,” she said.

The modern-day set and costumes conveyed the characters’ elevated status, with King Claudius and Queen Gertrude in tailored suits. Hamlet, by contrast, wore a concert T-shirt and entered to heavy metal music.

In reflecting on the show and the production process, Bell said, “It was an immense accomplishment to put together a production of the quality and intensity that they did. I couldn’t be more proud with the art and connection they made with each other and the audience.”

Rainey explained that the last few weeks before the show the cast practiced on set countless times. This allowed them to gain familiarity with the space and to be comfortable on stage.

With Hamlet being cast as a woman, Rainey admitted, “It was something I actually struggled with…it felt wrong to make him female, but it also felt wrong to keep him a male.”

In the end, Rainey’s Hamlet focused more on the character itself rather than the gender of the person. “I eventually decided that Hamlet just doesn’t have a gender because of the fact that this traditionally male character is being played by a female identifying person,” she said.

Junior Mia Wetzler played Ophelia, who descends into madness after Hamlet humiliates and rejects her. After her opening night performance, she spoke about how much fun she had with the cast and finally being able to perform on stage for an audience.

Junior Mia Kamenski, who played King Claudius, said she had a good time being a part of the play as a whole. She expressed,” We have an amazing cast and director. We had a really really good first show!”

The production’s stage manager, senior Noa Adams, is new to theater. She said this show was the “most fun thing I’ve ever done. It really opened my eyes to theater.”

Sophomore Anna Bullock, who played Gertrude, explained that being on stage for Hamlet “is just freeing because I don’t like being loud most of the time, and on stage you’re supposed to be loud.”

The cast of Hamlet was particularly tightly knit, Bullock said. After closing night, the cast went down into the green room and shared speeches with one another, with many of the cast crying knowing the production had come to an end.

Rainey added, “I love the cast. I think they’re wonderful, wonderful human beings!”

The show received hugely positive feedback with laughs and clapping throughout the show. With the cast moving not only around on stage but in the theater as well, the audience remained constantly engaged during the hour and 40 minute performance.

After the show, junior Ariana Ramos said, “It was really nice getting to see some of my friends on set.” Ramos also commented that the set particularly intrigued her and grabbed her attention.

Senior Aasha Puri added, ”I don’t understand Shakespeare, but I understood every word.” She also said the actors did a great job of expressing meaning through their performance.