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BWW Review: Marietta's New Theatre in the Square Brings a Fresh Take on Shakespeare's Beloved HAMLET

If you read Hamlet in school, it's probably ingrained into your brain as a boring old play about power hungry people who deliver famous soliloquies. Or perhaps you're one of those cool theater geeks who actually enjoys reading plays from the 1600's and thinks you know Hamlet pretty well. Well whatever your experience with Hamlet has been in the past, be prepared to have your world turned at this gender-swapped, modern version of Shakespeare's Hamlet at Marietta's New Theatre in the Square.

Director Emil Thomas brings you Hamlet as you've never seen it before. This ensemble of fierce ladies are up to the task of reinventing Shakespeare's most famous play. The cast as a whole brings passion to their words, keeping the original language fresh for today's audience.

Shay Stewart starred as Hamlet, and delivered a strong interpretation that was refreshing after being so used to seeing women in the weaker roles. Her Hamlet was bold and daring; never backing down from her beliefs. Likewise, Amor Owens' Queen Claudius didn't lighten up the cunning nature of the character, but rather sunk into it and let it be a strength rather than a weakness.

Mary Gagliardi was delightful as Polonius, and I loved seeing her interact with her children, Ophelia and Laertes. Gender-swapping the role allowed for some more tender motherly moments that made for a nice break amongst all the drama of the other characters. And of course, Benedetto Robinson's Ophelia and Brandon Wilkinson's King Gertrude made a stark contrast with Stewart's Hamlet and Owens' Queen Claudius. Seeing the characters as male brought perspective into the gender roles of the play, as I felt pity for Ophelia and King Gertrude, and the way that they were controlled by the women of the cast. The choice to gender-swap the play made those gender roles all the more clear. It is interesting how much we don't realize when women are being controlled in media because we're used to it, but the moment a man takes that spot it feels odd and out of place.

Overall the production was enlightening and engaging, as I relearned Hamlet through the view of these women. Everything from the set (featuring a raked platform in the middle), to the lighting, to the costumes, to the scene change music brought me into this new world of Hamlet and the intricate lives of these ladies.

Marietta's New Theatre in the Square's Hamlet runs through October 16th. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit http://www.theatreinthesquare.net/.

Photo Credit: Marietta's New Theatre in the Square



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