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No Ham in 'Hamlet'
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No Ham in 'Hamlet'
Salt Lake Shakespeare's Production Is To Be, Not Not To Be

By Christian A. Gentry


ooray for equity! Not only does it pay actors, but it makes a good show. At least those were the circumstances involved with the still-running Salt Lake Shakespeare production of “Hamlet.”

Director Craig Rich and company created an ancient land in a modern world all in the small confines of the Babcock Theatre stage. Only seating roughly 150 people, the intimacy of Babcock can be a potential tool to create a real life experience—or conversely, it can expose weak acting that is normally played off as somewhat good acting on the larger proscenium.

The Babcock space provided an arena where the bard’s larger-than-life message of betrayal and revenge was downsized to a more personal level without sacrificing the meat of the message itself.

When I think of Shakespeare, I think of big stage productions, Elizabethan costumes, false British accents, Baz Luhrmann, Kenneth Branagh, more bad English accents and high school (bad English accents and bad everything). All relatively unrelated, yet irrelevantly related. Make sense? Maybe not. Nevertheless, these things that I associate with Shakespeare were not even close to what went on with Rich’s production of “Hamlet.”

  Find out if Hamlet's love for his mother is portrayed in this production.

This is important because this production of Hamlet came across as a new play. Oftentimes, directors and actors rip off other ideas and portrayals from their many predecessors. And the theater goer goes away saying “He portrayed ‘Hamlet’ a lot like Kenneth Branagh, or Mel Gibson, or etc. blah blah blah.” Can there be an original production of a classic? There was and Salt Lake Shakespeare along with the parties involved deserve credit. From the costuming to the set design, from the blocking to the lighting, it was an original.

Jason Bowcutt (Hamlet) combined the elements of hatred and grief to a mixture that could only be interpreted as lunatic, yet brilliant. Despite fumbling a few lines, Morgan Lund (Claudius) showed that even the most treacherous of murderers can feel guilt yet feel no shame.

The story is the same, the quintessential quotes are still there, but the experience of “Hamlet” has been altered in such an original way as to turn this classic into a modern.

You still have a chance to see the show. It runs until June 22 at 7:30 p.m., as well as Saturday and Sunday matinees. Call ArtTixx, 355 ARTS, or order online at