Last night the BHS Performing Arts Company tackled the opening night of the fall play- ‘The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark’. The play, complete with dramatic monologues and an impressive duel scene, has been in the works since auditions took place in June of 2016. The verdict? Absolutely worth seeing.
Jasper Wolf stars as the philosophical and troubled Prince Hamlet, pacing the stage with purpose and delivering his lines with the passion and presence of a seasoned actor. His portrayal of Hamlet’s apparent descent into madness was fascinating to watch, and the fluidity with which he walks the fine line between reason and insanity is thoroughly chilling.
The role of quick-witted and naive Ophelia is played by Miriam Cubstead, who lends her beautiful singing voice to her character’s tragic storyline. A welcome counterpart to Wolf’s fiery Hamlet, Cubstead’s masterful interpretation of Ophelia left the audience heartbroken upon hearing of her fate and showcased her versatility as an actress (earlier this year she gave an animated and merciless performance of ‘In Short’ from the musical ‘Edges’).
As Laertes, Ophelia’s revenge-thirsty and obsessive brother, Sammy Haines gives a fine performance, adding fervor and a thrilling intensity to all of the scenes he was in, especially that of Ophelia’s funeral. His and Jasper Wolf’s stage fighting were well choreographed, rehearsed, and presented, and was certainly a highlight of the show.
As one of the main antagonists, Oliver Leeb gave a unique and impassioned rendition of Hamlet’s uncle Claudius, his pleasant, almost musical voice garnering unexpected affinity for his character from the audience. At times manipulative and scheming, at others frenziedly repentant, and sometimes even charming, Leeb’s performance is a melting pot of emotion and cunning.
Bringing in the comedic relief are Lennart Nielsen as Polonius and Nikolas Nielsen as the Gravedigger. Outfitted in a clean white suit and a dusting of gray powder in his hair, Lennart Nielsen is a confident and excellent actor with a comedic touch difficult to attain. He successfully portrayed the shallow, talkative Polonius and brought an unsettling overtone of familiarity to the sycophantic villain.
Following in his brother’s footsteps, Nikolas Nielsen proves himself to be a solid comedic actor, generating hearty laughter from the audience with the hilarious misuse of a skeleton he unearths while digging Ophelia’s grave. His breeches- Elizabethan style and an offensive shade of taupe- add to his overall comedic appeal, and serve as an entertaining sight even when he’s not making jokes about dead bodies in Shakespearean English.
Another highlight of the performance was the gorgeous costumes and the intricate, multifaceted set, both of which served to richly enhance the whole experience. Under the direction of the brilliant Ezra Flam, the BHS production of ‘The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark” is a must-see, and is especially impressive if one considers that all of this was achieved in just a few months. The last performance is on November 5th at 7:00pm, and I highly encourage anyone who hasn’t already seen it do so immediately. Tickets can be found at the BHS PAC website.