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‘Hamlet’ triumphs with daring acting

By: Hannah Paige Michels ~Head Photo Editor~

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Photo courtesy of Mikki Schaffner | Junior Henry Eden (left) plays Laertes and senior Katie Mitchell (right) plays Hamlet as they engage in a final, lethal foil fight, spectated by the king (Craig Wesley Divino) and queen (Kathleen Wise).

Having never seen Shakespeare performed live, I was unsure what to expect from Xavier Theatre’s rendition of Hamlet. But, as per usual, I was impressed with the atmosphere, talent and design of another Xavier show.

Katie Mitchell as Hamlet was, in a word, magnetic. The genderswapping choice may seem like novelty, but it only added dimension to the show as Mitchell effortlessly embodied her character.

Mitchell’s delivery was wellexecuted and all the more impressive given the difficulty of the source material. She carried herself with the charm and confidence of a seasoned veteran, a member of Xavier Theatre who surely will be missed upon graduation.

Ellie Conniff ’s performance as Ophelia undoubtedly solidified her place as a valuable member of Xavier Theatre. I completely expect to see Conniff snagging lead roles in the not-so-distant future. Conniff gracefully—and literally—danced on the line of insanity, depicting Ophelia’s unhinging with enough subtlety to leave the audience feeling eerily haunted.

The performances in Hamlet continued to impress with Henry Eden as Laertes, throwing himself into the passion and rage of his character to keep audience members thoroughly entertained. Muyiwa Oyatogun’s performance as Polonius was a great dash of attitude and comic relief. I would be remiss if I did not mention the performance of Taylor Maas as the clown/ensemble. Maas’s charisma and energy truly charmed the audience.

The thrust stage was a perfect choice for the show, allowing for a more intimate and exciting performance.

Physically being on the stage made for a more raw black box theater feel, which was only a plus for this dramatically charged show. Audience members felt engaged with the performers, whether Ophelia was anxiously handing out flowers or Hamlet was boring his eyes into the audience members in the back rows.

The attention paid to lighting this show added a wonderful visual. Watching a cross beam behind Hamlet was a simple touch that made an incredible impact on the audience experience. Similarly, the use of flashlights to illuminate portions of the ceiling was a unique touch to allow the audience to feel like a part of a space we don’t normally get to experience. And, of course, intense music combined with a flood light made Hannah Sgambellone’s entrance as Fortinbras completely unforgettable. I am looking forward to future productions from Xavier Theatre.

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