Arts theater review

A Hamlet reimagining

The MIT Shakespeare Ensemble keep us on the edge of our seats


The MIT Shakespeare Ensemble

Directed by J. Paul Nicholas

Nov. 7–9, 8 p.m.

La Sala de Puerto Rico, Student Center

Introducing the redefinition of a penny for your thoughts. The MIT Shakespeare Ensemble’s performance of Hamlet reconceives the original play by Shakespeare and brings imagination to life. For those of you who have read the play about the Prince of Denmark before you may have found it to be highly emotional. The infamous line “to be or not to be” has been quoted many times over. Another nuance you may have noticed is that while there are many high-pressure and tension-filled scenes, there are also welcome traces of comic relief.

Director J. Paul Nicholas cast two individuals to play the role of Hamlet, thereby thrusting the audience into his complex nature. There is a greater vibrancy added to his character as the two actors build on each other’s energy and truly revitalize the story. We not only see and hear Hamlet’s immediate actions and discourses with others, but we also simultaneously witness his internal conflicts and thoughts. This removed yet present revelation is one of the matches that lights the unique fire of this play.

As an audience, we are captivated, and our attention is kept throughout the entirety of the play. Too much pomp and circumstance are unnecessary to tell a powerful story. When you walk into the performance hall, you are introduced to a simple stage with two wooden thrones and seven benches. What is riveting is the story itself, which is recanted in vehement tones and easy synchronous movements. Swept up in the waves outside the castle walls of Elsinore, you will experience hate and love, murder and kissing, comedy and drama, and poignant puns interlaced with slight sexual suggestions.

I have two sweet nibbles for you: first there is a foil fight between Hamlet and Laertes — yes, you read that correctly. Hamlet and Laertes face each other in a battle of bravado, and which each clink and clank of the foils you are kept on the edge of your seat. Secondly, in the sub-play arranged by Hamlet to trick Claudius into confessing to the murder of his brother/Hamlet’s father, two of the players (whose genders I will not disclose) kiss!

All in all this is a play not to be missed. You won’t have another opportunity to see Hamlet like this, nor a similar portrayal and delivery anywhere else. If you are questioning to go or not to go — go already!