To Be Or Not To Be, Good? A Hamlet Review

Misha Khan

The stage was set. The actors were ready. It was a “lights, camera, action” moment but there was no room for mistakes. It was a live performance in front of several eager JU fans expecting nothing but the best from the theater department. What made it all more intense was that the play being performed was William Shakespeare’s famous Hamlet at the Swisher Theater.

The question on everybody’s mind was not “to be or not to be.” No, the question was how well would the actors be able to pull it off. The answer was in the cheerfully drawn-up applause at the end.

Hamlet’s theatrical posters all over the campus boast a play like it has never been seen before and that is exactly what the audience got. The cast was clad in black leather outfits complete with leather boots and it was perhaps the only Shakespearean performance I have been to with female actors playing male roles.

Senior Lesley Nadwonik played Horatio while Lindsay Olsen played Rosencrantz along with several other females donning male roles.

Set designer Ben Wilson did a decent job making sure the same set could be used for various different scenes. The play’s director, Deborah Jordan, did a marvelous job with everything from the entire cast and crew to most importantly cutting the beloved play short without losing any important scenes and dialogues.

The JU theater majors proved with this play their determination, enthusiasm, and appetite for perfection and success. Two performances however stood out for everybody.

JU senior Samuel Smid played a very convincing Hamlet. His character’s ups and downs during the play were performed passionately and quite brilliantly. Smid’s acting seemed quite real and passionate drawing his audience in even more so.

Another crowd-winning performance was that of King Claudius, better known as JU sophomore Nick Boucher. Throughout the play Boucher remained focused and set the bar up high for everybody even the lead. His acting was not just convincing and passionate but prominent and undoubtedly excellent.

Other admirable performances include Mya Brown’s Gertrude and Michele McGovern’s portrayal of sweet innocent Ophelia. These ladies acted their unique characters out exceptionally, truly giving it their all.

The play was ended with some great sword fighting between Smid’s Hamlet and Mitchell One’s Laertes which provided some thrill to the nearly three-hour play.

Shakespeare is a tough play writer and one that demands extreme perfection to make the characters seem as believable as possible. I have to say that the theater department was quite up to par. Going in I did not expect the actors to capture my attention and wow me the way they did. Needless to say I was not the only person who left looking forward to more amazing performances at JU.

Everybody who was a part of the play, in any way, tackled a difficult task very well and all his or her sweat and hard work paid off in the form of a skillful, devoted, and awesomely- acted performance.