On the last cold, dreary week of October, audience members in Garret Hall Auditorium were whisked away to colder, drearier Denmark where ghosts spoke and princes contemplated murder. The Blue Mountain College Department of Fine Arts presented a thrilling one-act adaptation of Shakespeare’s Hamlet that contained both laughter and tears, love and loss.
The shortened adaptation by Albert Pia cut down the nearly four hours of performance to a one-hour action packed drama while keeping both the most crucial elements intact and the audience on the edge of their seat. Isaiah Battle led the cast as the Danish Prince Hamlet along with Joey Ellis as the traitorous King Claudius, Jamie Henderson as the fair Queen Gertrude, and Addie Grace Putnam as the tragic Ophelia. As always, lots of thanks must go to the director, Christi Mitchell, for her hard work with the cast. Of course, the unsung heroes in the Production Crew deserve praise for the sound design, the many costumes, a fog machine, and much more.
The production came complete with a play within a play, plenty of laughs to go around, and finished off with a daring sword fight. We could see the effects of hours and hours of hard work, and it was plain to see those hours paid off. The famous “To Be or Not to Be” speech was delivered with such confidence and passion that it was difficult to imagine that the only Denmark around is all the way in Lafayette County rather than just beyond the curtain. Nate Foster, as both Polonius and the Grave Digger, had many in the audience chuckling with his excellent comedic performances. Many were also nervous to watch the funeral party lower Ophelia into a section of the stage, while she slipped away right under the audience’s nose. Yorick will, of course, have lots of new neighbors by the end of the play, and no one could blame the cast for sleeping like the dead after all their hard work.
Overall, the production was wonderful and had this English major wanting to revisit the entirety of Shakespeare’s Hamlet for more. We look forward to the spring production of Narnia, a short musical, scheduled for the end of March along with the Festival of Lessons and Carols with the BMC Chorale on December 6. There are truly many exciting things happening in the Blue Mountain College Department of Fine Arts!