Hamlet

Sarah Fallon as Ophelia
and Tony Marble as Hamlet

PHOTO CREDIT: LOU COSTY

What is it that regularly brings us back to see what many consider to be the greatest play ever written? Hamlet, son of the slain King of Denmark with whom he shares a name, is the ultimate enigma of the theatre. Already distraught over the death of his father and the hurried remarriage of his mother when the play opens, the intelligent, loving, and princely young man is visited by his father's ghost, who tells him to revenge his death. The repercussions of this call from the grave on Hamlet's complex psyche reverberate throughout the rest of the tale and precipitate a number of key questions that must be answered by the actors and the director.

Does Hamlet love Ophelia? Yes, as any infatuated young man would. But again, we only see their relationship after the murder and after the ghost. In the crucial scene, Hamlet follows through on his audience-shared insight that he must sever Ophelia's feelings for him so that she may better weather the storm he is sure will follow. Here, Symons has Hamlet sincerely attempt to explain his change of heart to Ophelia. It is only after Hamlet hears a noise (Thank you, Mr. Symons!), and realizes the two of them are being watched by Claudius and Polonius, that he loses his temper and unequivocally tells her to "get thee to a nunnery." Here, Marble and Sarah Fallon play the first half of the scene with the poignancy and tristesse that accompany the end of a beautiful courtship. This sets up the first of Ophelia's traumas, when Hamlet suddenly becomes enraged and hateful.

Is the lascivious element of Ophelia's later mad behavior properly forshadowed? Yes. Despite admonishments from both her brother, Laertes, and her father, Polonius, Fallon's Ophelia remains in love with love, and physically receptive in Hamlet's company. After her rejection by Hamlet, and after her father's death, Fallon is uninhibited, but not perverse. This is the portrait of an intelligent and hopeful, unrepressed young woman whose dreams have been shattered: a tragic heroine! 

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