Dramashop Puts New Spin on Shakespeare Classic

Categories:  Events    Theater
Wednesday, August 5th, 2015 at 7:45 AM

Shakespeare’s plays aren’t for everyone. Most people get flashbacks to high school, when they were forced to read the likes of Hamlet or Romeo and Juliet. The language can be tricky, and the characters confusing. But thanks to Dramashop and Gannon University’s Shakespeare Summer Nights, this time around it is different — and it has changed for the better.

Gertrude, Queen of Denmark puts a spin on the story of Hamlet, and tells it from the female perspective. I was skeptical that Robert Michael Morris’s take on Hamlet wouldn’t be any more convincing or grabbing than Shakespeare’s original classic, but I was pleasantly surprised that it was. I caught myself laughing out loud, and feeling for Gertrude. The play unfolds straight through (with no intermission) and lasts roughly an hour and a half.

Dramashop’s casting was excellent. For both Sue Ellen Wojciechowski, who played a maid, and Justine Julia, Gertrude herself, the acting was genuine and believable. Dramashop – utilizing a sparse setting – didn’t leave out any details, and had an intricate set-up for a small stage. The actors and actresses used every corner of the stage, as Gertrude saw Hamlet's dead father in a dream or as Gertrude’s new husband, Claudius, tells Gertrude that her son has gone mad.

The show features plenty of young talent as well, in the roles of Hamlet, and Marcus, played by Matthew Crays and Eudora Baltusavich, respectively. Because the majority of the Shakespearian language was dropped, it is easier to understand, yet the play itself never loses its complexity and detail.

The first night of the play was a success, with 47 others and myself in the theater – leaving only two empty seats. Even if you hated Shakespeare in high school, what Robert Michael Morris has done with his characters is worth seeing. There are just three chances left to see Dramashop’s take on this adaptation. This time, make sure there aren’t any empty seats left in the theater.  – Lauren Griffith

8 p.m. Aug. 6, 7, and 8 // Renaissance Theatre, 1001 State St. // Dramashop.org

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