‘Shattered Shakespeare’ delivers modern rendition of ‘Hamlet’

by HANNAH NELSON//Staff Writer

A night of family, romance and madness gave audience members a look at an old classic with modern-day twists. Students in the theater program at South Plains College performed their rendition of “Hamlet,” with performances on Oct. 20- Oct. 23. The production, titled “Shattered Shakespeare,” was meant to convey the classic story in a modernized manner. Directed by Dr. Dan Nazworth, the play included a variety of students as cast and crew members.  As described by the bill, this rendition mainly focused on Hamlet’s madness versus the traditional story approach.

The play opened with what seemed to be the ending scene. The audience gets a glimpse at the ending right as the curtain comes up. Most of the characters within the story are dead, including Hamlet. This scene as a whole tends to work backward, showing the audience what happens. Opening with the last scene did make the story a little confusing. It was like knowing the end product of a puzzle, but not having all the pieces to complete it. You were left wondering and confused in the beginning. Slowly, as the story went on, the more knowledgeable you became.

A big part of “Shattered Shakespeare” is the narration that takes place, starting in the opening scene. Two of the actors within the play, Matthew McCumber, who plays Horatio, and Daniel Griffin, who plays Fortinbras, also act as modern narrators to the story. They try to help the audience better understand complicated dynamics within the story. They basically turn “Hamlet” into a modern murder mystery in a way. They freeze the scene and explain to the audience in modern language exactly what is taking place.

These narrations did help explain the story slightly. However, throughout most of the play, the two narrators were sitting in the audience. This did succeed in breaking the third wall and added to the modern twist. The only issue with it was fully hearing what they were saying. Not being able to see who was talking, and having to solemnly listen, made it hard to hear what they were trying to explain.

Within the first scene alone there was a lot going on. This included a sword fight between Hamlet, played by Brandon Minor, and Laertes, played by Tino Cantrell. This was a very impressive part of the play. The fighting was very realistic and brought a lively aspect to the story. It had to be hard to safely choreograph a fight scene, and the actors did it well.

Another unique aspect to “Shattered Shakespeare” versus the original “Hamlet” was the second Hamlet character. In order to get a full glimpse into the madness of Hamlet, a second character comes out. This is Hamlet two, played by Lorena Lopez. This character is surprising as a female, even though Hamlet is a male. You assume, and the narrators explain, this is for comedic effect. For audience members who did not catch this right away, they may be confused. The character of Hamlet is portrayed through both the original Hamlet and the second one. This can get a little confusing, based on the fact both of them speak as different parts of Hamlet.

There was a small amount of humor added throughout the story. Every once in a while, you could catch a laugh from a narrator breaking the third wall. However, with such an intricate story, there wasn’t room for too many laughs. The solemn tone of “Hamlet” is not an easy thing to make playful and comedic.

Overall, “Shattered Shakespeare” was a lot easier to comprehend than the original complex story. The idea of bringing Hamlet into modern times was present with narration and comedy. However, the original story was still present.

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