Hamlet Lands at The Vex
The highly anticipated steampunk adaptation of William Shakespeare’s tragedy, Hamlet, opens at the Sheldon Vexler Theatre this Saturday, Feb. 10.
Directed and adapted for The Vex stage by Ken Frazier, this production has been updated a bit with slightly modernized language to fit the alternative-world, steampunk design. The overall story, however, remains the same. Hamlet (John Stillwaggon) has been summoned home to Denmark for his father’s funeral. His mother, Gertrude (Theresa Bishop), has already remarried – and not just any person. She’s married Hamlet’s uncle, Claudius (Jim Mammarella), his deceased father’s brother. To make matters worse, Claudius has crowned himself King of Denmark, even though that title should have gone to Hamlet. There’s a ghost (Rob Barron), a love interest (Chelsea, as Ophelia), a soliloquy or two, and plenty of Shakespearean death to go around. It’s everything anyone who enjoys Shakespeare could want, and more.
Written sometime between 1599 and 1602, Hamlet is often considered one of Shakespeare’s most famous and powerful tragedies, and may be among the most influential works of world literature in general. In its entirety, it is also his longest play; The Vex production will be two and half hours, adapted down from the original four-plus hours. The play is based on a Norse legend written by Saxo Grammaticus in Latin around the year 1200. The original stories, which consists of sixteen books, tells of the rise and fall of rulers of Denmark. Books three and four recount the tale of Amleth, Saxo’s Hamlet. There are multiple editions, or quartos, of Hamlet, each a bit different than the one before. For example, in one, Hamlet’s soliloquy begins “to be or not to be, that is the question”, while in another one, he says “to be or not to be. Aye, there’s the point/To die to sleep, is that all? Aye all.” To adapt the script for The Vex stage, Ken Frazier took elements from each of the various quartos and folios, tweaking words or settings to suit the steampunk theme. The result is not to be missed.
Performances are Thursdays at 7:30pm, Saturdays at 8pm, and Sundays at 2:30pm, February 10 through March 4. Tickets may be purchased online, or by calling 210-302-6835. Opportunities are also available for schools looking to bring groups of students to the show. For more information, call The Vex Box Office at 210-302-6835.