Hamlet by Unionville High School in Kennett Square, PA
November 14, 2017
Review submitted by Alexa Rode of Sun Valley High School
To be at Unionville’s production of Hamlet, or not to be? That is the question. From their phenomenal female Hamlet to their beautifully built graffiti wall, the Unionville cast and crew kept the audience on their toes and at the edge of their seats from beginning to end with their modern adaption of this classic play.
Hamlet is a play that was written in 1599 by William Shakespeare after the loss of his son. The curtain rises to a depressed Hamlet who is in the process of mourning the loss of his father. He is called home to Denmark for the funeral just to discover that his mother has been remarried to his uncle less than a month following her husband’s passing. Throughout the play, the audience witnesses Hamlet slowly spiraling into a state of insanity with an ending that goes to show why Hamlet is considered one of Shakespeare’s great tragedies.
This production was impressive from beginning to end. The sets were magnificent, the pit’s rock and roll score written by Eric Folmar really benefited to the modern aspect of the production, and every actor and actress portrayed their roles with the emotion that would have given the bard himself chills.
Perhaps the most risky decision this show made was casting the lead, Hamlet, as a female. Suchi Jain did not fail to show why she was the absolute right choice for this part. Despite her gender, her depiction of the pessimistic prince was practically perfect. Jain really threw herself into the character, from her body language to the rather insane look she consistently held in her eyes, she never strayed focus from the action that was happening onstage, even when it was just her.
The supporting character that left jaws dropping all over the audience was Ophelia, portrayed by Rachel Tierney. This hopeless romantic won the favor of many and delivered an overall outstanding performance including several spine-chilling scenes that left the audience in awe.
The tech in the show was very impressive. The scene changes moved smoothly, even when they had only seconds for a transition in the pitch black. The lights added to the overall quality of the show, along with sounds such as the echo added when the ghost would talk that gave off the eerie vibe of the scene.
To thine own self be true, putting on a show like Hamlet is not an easy thing to do… but Unionville sure did it! Whether the talent was onstage acting or offstage working sounds and lighting, Unionville’s production of Shakespeare’s Hamlet proved that though the play itself may be a tragedy, the production with such a talented cast and crew was a success.
Review submitted by Tommy Christaldi of Sun Valley High School
William Shakespeare said, “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” If this is to be believed, Unionville High School must have thought their production of Hamlet was wonderful.
The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, written sometime around the turn of the 17th century, is arguably Shakespeare’s most famous work. The story of a young prince in turmoil over the death of his father at the hands of his uncle (and new stepfather) has been performed and adapted countless times. While Shakespearean language is archaic, Unionville was quick to alleviate confusion, modernizing the show without altering the timeless dialogue. In direct opposition to the Elizabethan custom of men performing all roles, Unionville took a unique yet effective approach in lifting all gender restrictions of their characters, most notably Hamlet himself.
Hamlet is a demanding show, and Unionville’s actors handled it very well, but it was those that were not on stage that elevated the performance. Scenes were accompanied by meticulous lighting and occasional music to accentuate the already weighty dialogue. In scenes where Hamlet’s father’s ghost took the stage, shades of blue, echoes, ghastly makeup, and sharp guitar chords created an atmosphere of horror that stole the show.
As the title character, Hamlet has the most important lines in the show. Many times, Suchi Jain, Unionville’s young prince, was alone onstage, but she never wavered in her precise delivery. Every line was clear and confident, conveying emotions from sorrow to fury. Jain’s vehemence was present from the onset yet somehow managed to grow as Hamlet “went mad” to lull his uncle into a false sense of security. The famous “To be, or not to be” soliloquy was especially poignant, as Jain articulated each line carefully, altering her facial expressions, showing true understanding of a very complex character.
Of course, without anyone to interact with, Hamlet would be a series of monologues, not a classic tragedy. While Jain’s intensity was unmatched, everyone else made their characters equally memorable. Rachel Tierney’s Ophelia began calm and composed, making her final, screaming appearance even more shocking. With much stage time if not as many lines, King Claudius (Matt Caputo) and Queen Gertrude (Meghan McClosky) used subtle expressions to capture attention and add to the scene without being distracting.
Technically, Hamlet was stunning. While the rock music, written by Eric Folmar and brilliantly performed with Calvin Collison and Eli Sheppard, clashed with the formal tone of the show, it still fit perfectly. Sets included two detailed, almost professional portraits of the current and former King, but were relatively simple otherwise.
Unionville High School’s excellent performance found the method in the madness of as complicated of a show as Hamlet.