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.”
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 www.ArtTixx.com.