Review: Acting Up's 'The Tragedy of Hamlet'

July 14, 2014
Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

Acting Up Productions isn’t the first theater company to cast a woman in the lead role in “The Tragedy of Hamlet” (through July 26 at Marian University). But I’m happy to report that what could have been a gimmick instead proved to be a casting coup.

Lauren Briggeman’s performance isn’t the only strength in R. Brian Noffke’s production, but she’s what transforms this from a worthy take on the material (presented in lovely surroundings) into a must-see for Indy theater lovers…and for those who haven’t yet seen the great play on stage.

It seems like a year since I heard that Noffke had cast Briggeman in the part and that time spent with the material has paid off. The best-known speeches blend seamlessly with the rest of the dialogue, giving this “Hamlet” more of a sense of being a smart character study than a carved-in-stone classic. Briggeman has a gift—honed, obviously, by diligent work—in making clear the complex feelings behind the poetry.

This “Hamlet,” loosely set in contemporary America but retaining Shakespeare's text, is also gifted with a ghost (Bernard Wurger) who manages to be both sympathetic and frightening even when arriving in daylight, a Player King (Dan Flahive) whose friendship with Hamlet is charming, and a Claudius (Doug Powers) whose occasional William Shatner cadence reveals a man adept at addressing the public but at a loss when dealing with family matters. The play has been judiciously trimmed but not hacked—this isn’t a 90-minute-and-done Viewmaster version of Shakespeare but a full and rich production.

The second half doesn’t have the steam of the first, in part because survivors Laertes and Horatio don’t have the presence of dear departed Polonius (David Mosedale) and Ophelia (Leah DeWalt) and in part because the Americanization of the environment gives these sordid affairs less political weight. The fate of just people, not countries, are on the line now and the anachronistic (for the contemporary time period) duel seems an odd game to be playing when death is all around.

Still, Acting Up has crafted a piece of work that is noble in reason, express and admirable. And you are unlikely to see the likes of Lauren Briggeman in it again so I recommend you get thee to it.

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this blog

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT
  1. Really, taking someone managing the regulation of Alcohol and making himthe President of an IVY Tech regional campus. Does he have an education background?

  2. Jan, great rant. Now how about you review the report and offer rebuttal of the memo. This might be more conducive to civil discourse than a wild rant with no supporting facts. Perhaps some links to support your assertions would be helpful

  3. I've lived in Indianapolis my whole and been to the track 3 times. Once for a Brickyard, once last year on a practice day for Indy 500, and once when I was a high school student to pick up trash for community service. In the past 11 years, I would say while the IMS is a great venue, there are some upgrades that would show that it's changing with the times, just like the city is. First, take out the bleachers and put in individual seats. Kentucky Motor Speedway has individual seats and they look cool. Fix up the restrooms. Add wi-fi. Like others have suggested, look at bringing in concerts leading up to events. Don't just stick with the country music genre. Pop music would work well too I believe. This will attract more young celebrities to the Indy 500 like the kind that go to the Kentucky Derby. Work with Indy Go to increase the frequency of the bus route to the track during high end events. That way people have other options than worrying about where to park and paying for parking. Then after all of this, look at getting night lights. I think the aforementioned strategies are more necessary than night racing at this point in time.

  4. Talking about congestion ANYWHERE in Indianapolis is absolutely laughable. Sure you may have to wait in 5 minutes of traffic to travel down BR avenue during *peak* times. But that is absolutely nothing compared to actual big cities. Indy is way too suburban to have actual congestion problems. So please, never bring up "congestion" as an excuse to avoid development in Indianapolis. If anything, we could use a little more.

  5. Oh wait. Never mind.

ADVERTISEMENT