Review: HAMLET at Guthrie Theater

Running April 8 - May 21, 2023

By: Apr. 15, 2023
Review: HAMLET at Guthrie Theater
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Review: HAMLET at Guthrie Theater

Hamlet has been reborn on the Guthrie Theater stage to celebrate their 60th anniversary and it is certainly destined to be known as a triumph.

The beautiful thing about Shakespeare's work is that it is so timeless. It can be set in any time period, or place, and it will maintain its relevance. Joseph Haj, Artistic Director of the Guthrie Theater and director of this production, proves just that. He has combined the modern world with elements from decades and centuries gone by, almost to illustrate the point that Shakespeare is immortal.

Haj utilizes Jan Chambers' remarkable brutalist set to great affect, not afraid to play with the space, depth and heights in which he positions his actors to give the audience a well rounded view of the world he has created.

This is especially important for those with a lesser understanding of Shakespeare's use of old English. Hamlet may be a difficult journey at times for newcomers to the Bard's work in the comprehension department. It is one of his densest plays but rest assured, that even if it is difficult to grasp every word that is spoken, Haj's direction makes it simple to understand what is going on.

It would be a misstep to not elaborate on Jan Chambers' jaw dropping set design. Reminiscent of Brutalist architecture, her set is jagged and firm. There are no soft edges, minus the sweeping staircase, evoking the harsh reality of the story that is unfolding. It seems that Chambers set out to ensure that the audience is fully aware that the tale of Hamlet is not a cozy one, almost evoking a police state or a dystopian future that we have yet to reach.

Review: HAMLET at Guthrie Theater

Stunning the audience alongside Chambers' set design are the gorgeous lighting designs of Robert Wierzel, who frames the story with his dramatic and bold choices.

Returning to the Guthrie Theater, Francesca Talenti, dominates the visual field with a handful of incredible effects that enchants the audience into a scene of wonder. Without spoiling the magic, it is recommend to sit back a few rows and slightly up from the stage for the best viewing experience.

The true star of this production lies in Michael Braugher who takes the audience to the very depths of Hamlet's torment. Delivering the Danish Prince's soliloquies with such emotion, it is impossible to not feel for him and, in turn, root for his success and healing. It is not an easy feat to make Shakespeare's text sound so fluid but Braugher doesn't miss a beat. While this is Hamlet's story, the entire cast brings their profound talents to this harrowing story of love, loss, and revenge to great affect.

The Guthrie Theater's 60th Anniversary production of Hamlet is a magnificent experience to behold.


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