Hamlet is the culmination of Shakespeare's profound genius at the height of his career as a playwright. It is synonymous with the classic conception of theatre; from its unforgettable imagery to its moving poetry and poignant plot.
Hamlet takes to the University Theatre stage Feb. 14-18 with performances at 8 p.m. nightly.
Directed by Brian Parkinson, Hamlet is a production that requires tremendous resources, research and creative consideration.
"Hamlet is the pinnacle production in a director's career; it's the kind of play on every director's bucket list. It is the ultimate directing challenge because it is comprised of so many layers," says Parkinson.
Revenge, deception, incest, love and murder are some of the themes knitted throughout Shakespeare's script. It is also the longest of Shakespeare's works, and as such, poses numerous challenges for directors and actors.
"There isn't a single production of Hamlet that has the same script," Parkinson says. "Director's change and cut components of it, making bold choices to keep audiences riveted. In preparation, I worked for many months on the version we are using – a combination of all three editions – First Quarto, Second Quarto and First Folio. I'm confident we have a script that will engage our audience."
His father murdered and his mother remarried to the uncle he suspects of the killing, Hamlet's world has been turned upside down and into uncertainty.
Struggling to understand how this world and his mother are able to move on, Hamlet, tormented with loathing and consumed with grief, plans to avenge his father's death.
MFA candidate David Barrus designed the world in which Hamlet's tragedy unfolds.
"Barrus has created a superb setting that can infer multiple places," says Parkinson. "Our interpretation is modern; from the costumes designed by Leslie Robison-Greene to the modern weaponry, but it all exists on a very neutral stage. We've transported Hamlet's origins from ancient Denmark to an interpretation of a royal family of today.
"What interests me is framing the play in a contemporary context, so that it is relevant and understandable to the audience."
Tickets are available at the University Box Office, Monday through Friday, 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. or by calling 403-329-2616. Tickets are $15 regular, $10 for seniors and students.