Regarded as the most tragic of William Shakespeare’s plays, “Hamlet” requires little explanation of its plot. The drama of murder and revenge has been performed so often, with quotations from its script finding their way into everyday conversation, that a base description is unnecessary.
So why should the Flatwater Shakespeare Co. stage the play about the melancholy Danish Prince in the outdoor Swan Theatre at Wyuka?
Because it is a great play. It is a challenging play. And it is a play that deserves to be presented to audiences for their absorption.
It is also a play that requires good direction and proficient acting, especially in the title role. And those two necessities are acutely fulfilled with Bob Hall’s direction and Matt Lukasiewicz’ portrayal of Hamlet.
Lukasiewicz makes a choice in the development of his Hamlet to shy away from the brooding depression often associated with the role and instead attacks the part with a ferocious emotional intensity that is staggering.
That intensity fluctuates between anger and rage at his father’s murder and his mock psychosis façade, with the power in both forceful and penetrating in their effectiveness.
So involved in his performance, the tension in the actor’s body causes the cords in his throat and the veins in his hands to visibly knot as he releases his passion. It is bottled intensity that is systematically unleashed.
But Lukasiewicz doesn’t allow the emotion to control his performance. Amid all that passion, he takes the time to deliver and intone his lines for the audience’s benefit. Rather than a monotonous recitation, he quite simply breathes life into Hamlet’s lines.
Lukasiewicz’ effort is quite superb, but the play’s good performances do not stop there. Look for very fine work from Andy Dillehay as Horatio, Patrick Lambrecht as Claudius, Scott Shomaker as Laertes, Richard Nielsen as Polonius, plus refreshing portrayals from Laurence Mota and Paden Alexander as Guildenstern and Rosencrantz.
Emma Gruhl’s Ophelia seems overly reserved in the production’s first act, but she bursts forth with great conviction during her second act mad scene.
“Hamlet” runs three hours, outdoors ... and you deserve to see the performances of Lukasiewicz and the others.