CSUN is about to get a taste of Shakespearean tragedy as the Acting Company performs “Hamlet” at the Plaza del Sol Performance Hall.
Founded in 1972, the New York company is America’s leading nationally touring repertory theater. Having performed over 138 productions across the nation the company has housed some big names in film, such as Rainn Wilson, Kevin Kline and Patti LuPone.
This will be the first production of “Hamlet” in the Acting Company’s 40-year history and the first stop in their nationwide tour.
The story revolves around a tortured Prince Hamlet who seeks revenge for his father’s murder. As the play escalates Hamlet is faced with doubts of loyalty among his friends and family leading him to insanity. Even though “Hamlet” has been reproduced in countless playhouses the story continues to carry relevance in today’s modern world.
The play’s director Ian Belknap, who’s worked with the company since 2008, wanted to mix the best of both worlds. “It’s a blended world, the clothes are in the Elizabethan renaissance but I think they’re many contemporary gestures and motifs in the play, so I tried to mix where we are in 2013 with clothes from 1601,” Belknap said.
Audiences will be taken back by a realistic set that resembles a rustic castle which accommodates the colorful costumes that help transport guests inside the renaissance court where poofy pants and fencing swords are all the rage. But no matter how showy the costumes are, the acting will reclaim any Shakespeare hater mainly because this tragedy is showered with endless humor.
Every character manages to crack a joke or two, but audiences should watch out for two in particular, actors John Skelley, as Hamlet and Andy Nogasky, as Polonius. It’s unusual to see such comedic timing in a play like “Hamlet,” but their subtle gestures are enough to produce a full room of chuckles. The two seem to be so in sync that when they combine their comedic powers they’re able to win the hearts of everyone.
Nonetheless, Skelley’s interpretation of Hamlet will allow any Shakespeare aficionado to go home happy. His slow ascension into madness is so well done that audiences will sympathize with the lunatic prince instead of despise him for his gorish acts.
Yet, if guests are worried about understanding Shakespeare’s complicated language, don’t fear. Though the dense prose can be difficult to take in, the Acting Company manages to translate that vintage humor so everyone can take away what they’d like from the play.
“I think it’s one of the best stories ever written so I hope its a clear story and ultimately we should feel what hamlet feels at the end of the play, as if it were our own feeling but what that says to you or what that says to me are different things,” Belknap said.
Hamlet will be performed at the Plaza del Sol Performance Hall Friday Oct. 4 at 8 p.m. Visit the VPAC ticket office 24 hours prior to showtime for special rush tickets starting at $12 for students and $17 for faculty and staff. Non-CSUN students can purchase tickets one hour before showtime for $35 to $40.