Jungle Theater's 'Hamlet' doesn't lose the story amid modern trappings
It's a show that was worked on up until the last minute. The traditional public dress rehearsal/preview was canceled, making Friday's premiere likely the first time an audience of outsiders saw the show.
Boehlke's idea of layering a modern veneer on the story certainly isn't unique (the National Theatre went down a similar path with its latest production). However, it works quite well, especially as he has added enough ancient weight (think back to those massive columns) to keep the original tale front and center, and isn't afraid to just head back to the story when needed. The opening, which used security cameras to show us the ghost of Hamlet's father, was stunning and gave the production the energy to keep moving, even when the plot (Shakespeare had a lot of story on his plate here, along with all the self-doubt, murder, and near incest) threatened to drag the proceedings down.
That's aided by Bradley Greenwald's performance as the usurper, who makes it clear that he is in charge at every moment--except when he is called out, for just a moment, by Hamlet's multimedia play-within-a-play. His lonely confession is one of the real standout moments of the production, and it helps to make Hamlet's soon-to-follow show of mercy make all the more sense. There are shades even in a murderer like Claudius, who is it for Hamlet to go for revenge over justice?
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