Reviewed by Tony Annicone
Providence College Blackfriars Theatre’s second show of their season is “Hamlet” by William Shakespeare. The play is set in the kingdom of Denmark and recounts how Prince Hamlet exacts revenge on his uncle Claudius, firstly for murdering the old King Hamlet, Claudius’ brother and the Prince’s father, secondly for then succeeding to the throne and marrying Gertrude, King Hamlet’s wife and the Prince’s mother. The play portrays real and feigned madness, from overwhelming grief to seething rage and explores themes of treachery, revenge, incest and moral corruption. Director John Garrity infuses the show with the energy and vitality necessary to make the show relevant to current day audiences with his talented cast. He brings out the best in his performers and gives them their moment to shine in this show.
The pacing and energy of the first act needs to be tightened up so it is worth wait for the second act to rivet you to your seats. Everyone can identify with the plight of Hamlet, it’s about being isolated in a corrupt world and how we all feel about it. The magnificent sword fight choreography is by Jim Beauregard while the mood music is by Hannah Y. Greene. Sophomore Timothy Brown is captivating as Hamlet whose heart is broken on as he mourns the death of his beloved father. He plays a wide range of emotions as he is plagued by doubts and conflict, erupting into anger at all the appropriate moments. Timothy gives an eloquent portrayal as Hamlet as he vows revenge and begins either his slow spiral into madness or puts on an act only to appear insane. He commands the stage in this role with his enormous amount of dialogue. A stunning moment is when he sees his father’s ghost projected onto the stage and sends chills up your spine during this segment.
The evil Claudius is well played by Daniel Carroll as he captures the deviousness of this smarmy and untrustworthy man. He also shines as the ghost of Hamlet’s father. Mireya Lopez’s best scene as Gertrude is the confrontation with Hamlet when Polonius is killed. It is electrifying as she wavers about whether Hamlet is truly mad or not. Mireya also delivers the goods in her final poignant scene after she drinks the cup of poison. Johnathan Coppe commands the stage as Polonius. He plays the role like a well seasoned politician rather than as a buffoon.
Ophelia is dynamically played by Jennifer Dorn. She is comical at first finding Trojans hidden in her brother’s suitcase, becomes ethereal in her first scene with Hamlet and then delivers a gut wrenching performance as Ophelia descends into madness in the second act. Laertes is wonderfully portrayed by A.J. Roskam. His character really comes to life after his father’s death when he vows revenge on Hamlet. He redeems himself near the end of the show as he confesses the poisoned sword tip to Hamlet. The sword fight between Timothy and him is brilliantly portrayed and stops the show at their expertise in doing it. Rosecrans and Guildenstern are well played by Emily Clark and Daniel Jameson. The stunning closing sequence of this show when Hamlet commands Horatio played expertly by Teddy Kiritsy (who played the Baker in “Into the Woods”) to not kill himself so he can tell the tale of Hamlet to one and all is the perfect finishing touch to one of Shakespeare’s best tales. So be sure to catch “Hamlet” at Providence College before time runs out.
HAMLET (26 January to 11 February)
Blackfriars Theatre, Bowab Studio, Providence College, Eaton Street, Providence, RI
1(401)865-2218 or www.providence.edu/theatre